Dorothy Tang's title bid comes just short
San Marino tennis standout becomes first from school to advance to final since 1999.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: After advancing to the final earlier in the day, San Marino's Dorothy Tang fell in the title match later that evening 6-1, 6-2 to the top-seed, Dana Hills' Alyssa Smith. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
The Titans tennis ace became the area’s first representative to advance to a CIF Southern Section Individual Tennis Championship since 1999 at Wednesday afternoon’s semifinal action at the Racquet Club of Irvine.
Unfortunately for Tang, the Princeton-bound athlete’s bid to become the San Gabriel Valley’s first individual singles champion since Titans’ alumna Luana Magnani was dashed as Tang fell in the finals later that evening 6-1, 6-2 to Dana Hills’ Alyssa Smith.
“This is the farthest I’ve ever gone. The last three years, I didn’t even get this far,” Tang said. “I was never really ready to play [in past years]. I played well in this tournament and I’m happy to have been in the finals.”
Tang ran into a buzzsaw in Smith, the top-seeded player, who won the first five games of the first set in racing out to a dominating lead.
Tang fired back by winning her first game with a running smash of a Smith lob to pull within 5-1.
However, in the subsequent game, Smith rallied from a 30-15 deficit and won the set with a backhanded shot fired from her hip while falling backward.
In the second set, Tang opened with a 1-0 lead, winning a pivotal point on 40-30 with a perfectly-placed shot down the line.
Unfortunately for Tang, in a near repeat of the first set, Smith won the next four games, three clinched on errors by Tang, in going up, 4-1.
Again, Tang, the Rio Hondo League champion, tried to close the gap by winning the next game thanks to her powerful forehand.
The effort, though, wasn’t enough as Smith, the South Coast League champion, won the last two games to clinch her first championship and first for her school since 1990.
“I’ve seen Alyssa play for years and she’s excellent,” said San Marino Coach Melwin Pereira, who while coaching Tang also simultaneously witnessed his daughter, Alexis, win the doubles’ title with Campbell Hall teammate Zoe Katz. “Maybe Dorothy was a little tired, I don’t know. I know she did great in getting here.”
Tang only had an hour break after earning a berth to the championship by dispatching of South Coast League runner-up Mayci Jones of Tesoro 6-2, 7-6.
In comparison, Smith was allotted nearly three hours after she defeated Arcadia’s Francis Dean 6-0, 6-1.
“My teammates and I were looking through the [CIF Southern Section record book] to see the winners and runners-up and see the San Marino people,” Tang said. “It’s kind of amazing to see that if you get far enough in this tournament, your name will be remembered forever.”
Tang’s match was a week in the making as the senior was initially supposed to play Nov. 29 and then on Monday, but had both matches postponed due to inclement weather.
Even on Wednesday morning, the venue was changed at the last minute from the Seal Beach Tennis Center to the Racquet Club of Irvine due to a heavy amount of fog at Seal Beach.
Tang initially appeared to catch a break versus Jones, who still had to finish her quarterfinal match versus Long Beach Millikan’s Cindy Nguyen on Wednesday afternoon.
That seemed like a mere formality as Jones led Nguyen, the Moore League champion, 6-2, 2-0 when their match on Nov. 28 was suspended due to darkness.
The week-long delay turned into an issue for Jones, who saw Nguyen rally for a 7-6 (5) second-set victory before Jones held her off after two hours play, 6-3, in the final set.