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ROD VEAL, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Dana Hills' Alyssa Smith is the All-County Tennis Player of the Year.

Dana Hills' Smith girls tennis player of the year

FOR OCVARSITY.COM

There Alyssa Smith sat, courtside with her Dana Hills teammates as first-year varsity starter Mona Mosavi fought tooth and nail at No. 4 singles with the CIF Southern California championship riding on the outcome of her third and final set.

Earlier, Smith wrapped up a 6-2, 6-1 singles victory over Peninsula's Ena Shibihara to hand the Dolphins a point for the fourth time in as many regional matches. Unlike the round prior though, all she could do now was watch.

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All-County girls tennis team

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“It was really nerve-racking, to be honest,” said Smith, OCVarsity's 2012 girls tennis player of the year. “I'd rather be the one playing out there, but it was great for her (Mosavi).”

Ultimately, Mosavi — just a sophomore — rose to victory as Dana Hills captured the inaugural CIF SoCal championship, yet, none of it would've been possible without Smith's performance in the semifinals a week earlier.

With six of seven sets already decided, Dana Hills and Division 1 champion Campbell Hall sat at three-all with Smith's No. 1 singles set serving as the match's tiebreaker.

“I figured that if both teams were being pretty loud then it wasn't decided yet,” she said of her set against USC-bound Zoe Katz. “I hoped that it was three-all, and I just wanted to get my set. I was super pumped. It was great energy. ... I thought it was kind of fun.”

The defining moment in a career chock full of them, Smith — who'd taken the first set, 6-4 — rebounded from a rough second to win the third, 6-1, and usher her Dolphins into the championship match.

“I felt it (the third set) was mine for the taking,” she said. “I like pressure and I think that it worked in my favor that day.”

Truth be told, a lot has worked in Smith's favor this season.

The senior captain dropped just two sets in leading Dana Hills to the South Coast League title, a berth in the Division 1 semifinals and the CIF Southern California championship.

She also finished both CIF postseasons with a sparkling 19-1 overall record and wrapped up a fine four-year varsity career by claiming the CIF-SS Individuals singles title.

“When I'm on the court, it doesn't matter what else is going on outside of it,” she said. “When you're in that little enclosed area you can kind of focus on yourself.”

The youngest in a family of outstanding women's tennis players, Smith — with the help of older sisters and Dana Hills alums, Kristina and Joanna — decided to attend Duke University next fall on a full tennis scholarship.

“They've been great through everything and been super supportive of me,” Smith said of her sisters. “I think we all feed off each other. It's our own little team within the family which I think is why I love high school tennis so much.

“With my sisters gone (Kristina at UCI; Joanna at Arizona State), my teammates are my sisters.”

In a county brimming with talent, Smith inevitably separated herself from her contemporaries with dazzling singles and doubles play against each top-tier competitor — all while plantar fasciitis reeked havoc on her mobility.

“If you're not working hard somebody else is,” she said. “We all push each other because nobody wants to lose. Everybody is working hard to try to get better and win the next match, so it (the competition) keeps me really motivated because I want to be on top.”

There Alyssa Smith sat, courtside with her Dana Hills teammates as first-year varsity starter Mona Mosavi fought tooth and nail at No. 4 singles with the CIF Southern California championship riding on the outcome of her third and final set.

Earlier, Smith wrapped up a 6-2, 6-1 singles victory over Peninsula's Ena Shibihara to hand the Dolphins a point for the fourth time in as many regional matches. Unlike the round prior though, all she could do now was watch.

“It was really nerve-racking, to be honest,” said Smith, OCVarsity's 2012 girls tennis player of the year. “I'd rather be the one playing out there, but it was great for her (Mosavi).”

Ultimately, Mosavi — just a sophomore — rose to victory as Dana Hills captured the inaugural CIF SoCal championship, yet, none of it would've been possible without Smith's performance in the semifinals a week earlier.

With six of seven sets already decided, Dana Hills and Division 1 champion Campbell Hall sat at three-all with Smith's No. 1 singles set serving as the match's tiebreaker.

“I figured that if both teams were being pretty loud then it wasn't decided yet,” she said of her set against USC-bound Zoe Katz. “I hoped that it was three-all, and I just wanted to get my set. I was super pumped. It was great energy. ... I thought it was kind of fun.”

The defining moment in a career chock full of them, Smith — who'd taken the first set, 6-4 — rebounded from a rough second to win the third, 6-1, and usher her Dolphins into the championship match.

“I felt it (the third set) was mine for the taking,” she said. “I like pressure and I think that it worked in my favor that day.”

Truth be told, a lot has worked in Smith's favor this season.

The senior captain dropped just two sets in leading Dana Hills to the South Coast League title, a berth in the Division 1 semifinals and the CIF Southern California championship.

She also finished both CIF postseasons with a sparkling 19-1 overall record and wrapped up a fine four-year varsity career by claiming the CIF-SS Individuals singles title.

“When I'm on the court, it doesn't matter what else is going on outside of it,” she said. “When you're in that little enclosed area you can kind of focus on yourself.”

The youngest in a family of outstanding women's tennis players, Smith — with the help of older sisters and Dana Hills alums, Kristina and Joanna — decided to attend Duke University next fall on a full tennis scholarship.

“They've been great through everything and been super supportive of me,” Smith said of her sisters. “I think we all feed off each other. It's our own little team within the family which I think is why I love high school tennis so much.

“With my sisters gone (Kristina at UCI; Joanna at Arizona State), my teammates are my sisters.”

In a county brimming with talent, Smith inevitably separated herself from her contemporaries with dazzling singles and doubles play against each top-tier competitor — all while plantar fasciitis reeked havoc on her mobility.

“If you're not working hard somebody else is,” she said. “We all push each other because nobody wants to lose. Everybody is working hard to try to get better and win the next match, so it (the competition) keeps me really motivated because I want to be on top.”


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