It was deja vu all over again at the Peninsula Athletic League individual tournament finals.
And once again, after all the sets were played, Carlmont’s Corey Pang is still the biggest fish in the PAL pond.
Pang completed his undefeated PAL season with a 6-2, 7-6(7-3) win over Burlingame’s Scott Taggert, in a repeat of last season’s final, to win his second straight league singles title.
“No … it doesn’t get old, definitely not — especially with Scott putting up a tough fight today,” Pang said.
Taggert provided Pang his tougest test of the entire tournament, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic unforced errors by the Scot in the second set to force a tiebreaker. But at the end of the day, Pang was too strong, too good, too experienced.
“It was a good match,” Taggert said. “Corey played very well like he normally does. I defended five, six match points, but he was the better player today overall. And I felt that if I just would have had a little longer shots, I would have had a chance. But overall, he played great.”
“He came up with big serves on the match points I had before the tiebreaker,” Pang said. “It kind of bugged me there a little bit, I wanted to finish it off there. But when we went to the tiebreaker, definitely my serve was big to get three points and I put the ball in play on the returns to make him work a little bit.”
Pang’s serve made a huge difference in the deciding third set that allowed him to jump ahead of Taggert and then basically wait out with a three-point lead in hand.
“I think Scott played some of the best tennis I’ve seen him play,” said Carlmont head coach Amina Doar Halsey. “That was a beautiful match that he put together. But Corey pulled it out and I think a lot of that is his experience in difference stages of the match and knowing how to get yourself out of it. It takes a really strong mental game.”
Pang hit a bit of lull in the second set after he cruised through set one. 6-2. On more than a handful of ocassions, the now back-to-back champion of the PAL had mini conversations with himself, frustrated by his errors.
“Try to slow it down a little bit and take my time and try to get into it mentally,” Pang said when asked about his thought process in those tough times. “Try to keep my returns down the middle so I can take higher percentage shots. Get my feel back for it a little bit. And also come to the net.”
“He plays a lot,” Doar Halsey said. “He’s a highly competitive player. So, he knows how to handle the pressure and he’s really proven that throughout the season.”
Taggert actually jumped out to a 4-3 lead in the second set before Pang turned up the heat a bit and took control of that crucial swings of points. It was Taggert though, who down 6-5, forced that tiebreaker.
But at the end, it was Pang’s title once again.
“I think if I would have pushed him a little longer, got the second set, then it would have been a very close third set,” Taggert said. “Everytime I’ve played him, whether I’ve won or lost, you learn more from losing than I do winning. So, I’ll take this match and put it to good use for the future.”
“There’s a little pressure,” Pang said when asked if he felt any at the start of the tournament with him being the No. 1 seed. “I definitely wanted to win this tournament. Scott’s been playing really well and Reed (Fratt of Menlo-Atherton), I was a little worried about that. But, they were both on the same side of the draw and I only had to play one of them.”
Pang and Taggert will both move on to play in the Central Coast Section tournament.
“Definitely, this is good match practice for CCS,” Pang said. “Nothing can really be the same. Practice matches, you try to make them the same but a real match, when you’re working hard and trying to win for your school, it definitely gives me good practice.”