Albany girls tennis star Allison Chuang closed out a stellar career by putting a doubles twist on her legacy.
By MIKE YOUNG | SportStars
Since picking up a tennis racket at 8-years old, Albany High senior Allison Chaung has excelled at the sport.
Tennis runs in the family for the Chuangs, though. And after winning back-to-back North Coast Section singles titles in 2012 and 2013, Allison decided to choose family over history.
Rather than attempting to become only the second girls tennis player to win three straight NCS titles — and the first in more than 25 years — Chuang decided she’d rather chase a doubles title by playing alongside her younger sister Claire.
She still managed to join some pretty elite company.
Allison and Claire pretty much breezed through the NCS Division I Doubles Championships at Chabot College in Hayward on Nov. 18. The duo were awarded the No. 2 seed in the 16-entry bracket and won all four matches without dropping a set. The Chuangs defeated Novato’s Jenna Dorian and Elise Omholt 6-4, 6-0 in the championship match.
The title made Allison the first girls tennis player to win NCS titles in both singles and doubles. She’s the first to do so since Louani Bascara of Branson-Ross won two of each from 1994-97.
With her Father, having played since his youth, Allison was roped into the tennis atmosphere at a early age, and only got better and better. By the time she got to high school, her presence was known. Chuang immediately took over the top singles role for the Cougars as a freshman. Despite there being a two time league singles champ on the roster, Allison earned the right to handle the reins from the get-go.
She finished third in her first NCS singles tournament as a freshman.
“Her tennis game was very, very good,” said Albany tennis coach Sue Ford, now in her 12th year leading the Cougars. “Allison came aboard and was really a team player, and helped out the team. She is just a really good tennis player.”
In Ford’s eyes, Allison has always been a mature member of the team and has seen her game grow over the years. Chuang struggled through her serves early in her career as Allison admits correlated with her nerves on the court when she was younger.
“I had a lot of problems at the beginning, especially with my serve, I would double-fault games away because I was so nervous,” Chuang said. “I would serve buckets every days. Just buckets and buckets, and I eventually got better and still continue to work on it.”
Chuang has always been known for her hunger to improve, and overcoming obstacles. Ford has noticed over her time at Albany that Allison has developed an extra gear that she could go to in order to finish a match.
“It’s enjoyable trying to reach your limits and see how far you can go,” Chuang said. “It’s a very well-rounded game. It’s mental, physical and endurance. I’m always trying to figure out the best and cleanest stroke.”
With that kind of mentality, it’s no surprise that Chuang has soared to such levels, and not also surprising that she is a scholar athlete as well. You can usually find her doing her homework during matches.
“I don’t have much of a social life, but I can still hang out with friends,” Chuang said jokingly. “I end up spending my time at school, then going to play tennis, then drive home to do my homework and by that time I’m too tired to do anything else. But i enjoy it, I think it keeps me on top of things, and has made me a more efficient worker.”
A daily routine for Allison includes getting up early to go train with her private coach before school, rushing home to shower then attending a full school day before going to Albany’s tennis practice. The Cougars practices can last till 8 in the evening sometimes, the Allison goes home to do her homework. Then everything repeats the next day.
Chuang’s escape is her family. With two younger siblings as well as the majority of her extended family living in the Bay Area, there is never a shortage of people to hangout with.
“Its the small things, like sitting on the couch and watching TV with my family,” Chuang said.
You can expect to see a lot of Chuang’s family members in the crowd at her matches. Much of the family is invested in tennis. In addition to her sister Claire, her younger bother also play. Allison’s father has always been a part of Allison’s tennis life, taking her to practices, matches and tournaments.
“Im really thankful that my dad can pick me up and take me to these tournaments every other weekend, and going to practice,” Chuang said. “My two younger siblings play too, but nobody as much as I do, so everybody is kind of in on it with me.”
Ford recalls seeing Allison playing with her father and her two siblings playing at the Albany Courts and was just impressed with some of the things that he was having them do before even picking up the racket and hitting the ball.
A team policy allows members who are being privately coached and participate in individual USTA tournaments, such as Allison, to leave practice early. But with any upcoming match, Allison is a presence on the team.
“If she’s playing in a match, she’s there,” Ford said. “And that’s really appreciated by me and the other players as well. She is a bit a of a team leader. Early in the season, she’s always there to get to know everybody and get comfortable with everybody. Which shows a lot of maturity and being a team player.”
That kind of maturity has contributed to her genuine persona, and is a larger part of what made her attractive to Dartmouth College.
“The first time the Dartmouth coach saw me play I got creamed by some girl,” Chuang said. “But I guess he really liked my attitude and my composure after the loss.”
Many coaches and players have commented on her positive attitude and strong sportsmanship. Chuang has always had a smile on her face.
“She has a genuineness to her person and a kindness,” Ford said. “She’s just really a good person. She works hard and uses everything that she works for, and I’m really happy for her.”
It was her idea to closer her Albany career playing with her sister.
“I’ve been playing singles for almost three years, and I thought it would be fun in my senior year to play doubles with my sister,“ she said. “There wasn’t any kind of strategic aspect to it.”
There didn’t have to be. Allison had earned the right to close out her Cougars tennis career any way she liked.
And, to no one’s surprise, it came with a NCS medal placed around her neck.
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