Dorothy Tang was a singular sensation
San Marino senior led the charge for girls' tennis in season of championships.
Dorothy Tang of San Marino High School. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / December 14, 2012)
“Initially, in the beginning of the season ... she didn’t believe, she didn’t have a game plan,” said Melwin Pereira, who quickly identified Tang as the heir apparent to the previous season’s graduated No. 1 singles player, Sarah Gealer, when he took over the coaching reins for San Marino this season. “It was about motivating her and making her believe in herself and in her entire game, that she can do it and not worry about anything else.
“[I told her] whatever the outcome is it will be fine, whether she wins or loses, it doesn’t matter, as long as she goes out and gives her best.”
Looking back on the season now, it seems safe to say Tang can live with the results from her historic season.
It didn’t take Tang long from the start of the season to round into dominant form out of the No. 1 singles slot, from which she went 39-4 to lead the Titans to the Rio Hondo League and CIF Southern Section Division II team titles and an appearance in the second round of the CIF Regional tournament.
Individual success came hand in hand with team triumphs, as Tang also won the league singles title and advanced farther in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tennis Championships than any area representative had in 13 years when she reached the finals.
“I think the whole team aspect of high school tennis really brings out the best in everyone,” said Tang, who will attend Princeton in the fall. “I know it brought out the best in me.
“This year I really wanted to get far, but I didn’t think I would get this far. It was a great experience and I felt a lot of support from my teammates and the parents and it really helped me in the tournament.”
For Tang’s sterling record in competition, clutch performances on some of the biggest stages of the season and undeniable contributions to her team’s ultimate success, Tang was unanimously voted 2012 All-Area Girls’ Singles Player of the Year by the editors and sportswriters of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, La Cañada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun.
Tang’s crowning individual achievement was her dramatic victory over Mayci Jones of Tesoro, 6-2, 7-6, in the semifinal round of the individual tournament on Dec. 5 at the Racquet Club of Irvine.
“She was one of the hottest players in the last two months [of the season], she was on a roll,” Pereira said of Jones. “Mayci actually played well, she tried to come back, but Dorothy shut the door on her. She kept her foot on the gas pedal.”
Ironically enough, after having to wait through more than one weather delay spread out over a week to face Jones, Tang was given just one hour of turnaround before facing Dana Hills’ Alyssa Smith in the finals. Her season ended just one win short of becoming the first Titan to win a CIF individual crown since Luana Magnani accomplished the feat inn 1999, as she fell to the top-seeded Smith, 6-1, 6-2.
“Starting off in the [individual] tournament, I didn’t think I would actually get so far,” said Tang, who also defeated USTA second-ranked Emma Higuchi of Campbell Hall in the quarterfinals, 7-5, 6-2. “It was a tough draw, I had two good wins and it was pretty amazing finishing off so strongly, especially in my senior year. I’m just really happy, because I’ve never gone this far before.
“There was a lot better competition [at the end of the season] so it kind of made me step my game up. Although my last match I didn’t play the way I wanted to play — I was a little disappointed in the way I played — I was still really content with getting to the finals.”
Tang may have just missed becoming a CIF individual champion, but ended her career as a three-time CIF Division II team champion when the Titans (20-4) beat Arcadia, 14-4, at The Claremont Club on Nov. 9.
In that match, Tang swept her three sets with just one game dropped, including a 6-1 shellacking of CIF Individual semifinalist Francis Dean.
“It was amazing [winning a team title] because I actually was not that confident we would even get to the finals of CIF since last year we lost in the semifinals,” Tang said. “Last year we had Sarah Gealer on our team and we didn’t have her this year.
“We also had two tournament-ranked freshman players [No. 3 singles Devon Jack and No. 1 doubles player Madeline Gandawidjaja] coming in, so that helped us a lot in doubles and singles.”
But the Titans themselves saw fourth-seeded Claremont’s opposition in the semifinals as San Marino’s greatest hurdle to a CIF title. Tang posted another strong sweep, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, to provide the Titans with their only singles wins in a close 11-7 win at home on Nov. 7 that put San Marino back in the finals for the firs time since 2010.
“Claremont was the toughest [team we faced in the playoffs] and she just swept all of them,” Pereira says. “Dorothy is definitely the key player. Our team is definitely going to be depleted next year without Dorothy.”
Tang also won the third Rio Hondo League singles championship of her career when she beat teammate Jack, 6-0, 6-3, in the finals on Oct. 26 at Temple City.
“We just exceeded our expectations and we worked really hard during the season,” Tang said. “It feels amazing to have all our hard work pay off. It was a rewarding experience.”