Tiffany Chen carries a demeanor on the tennis court where it is challenging to tell if she is at a point of breaking apart or taking control.
But the Naperville Central sophomore finally had an emotional outburst late Saturday afternoon at Buffalo Grove High School. It was understandable considering the intensity and stakes of her match with Hinsdale Central freshman Isabella Lorenzini.
Contact information ( * required )
After more than two hours filled with long pressure-filled points, Chen was the singles state champion with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Lorenzini.
"I'm just super-excited," said Chen, who came in as the second seed after finishing fourth a year ago. "I didn't come into the tournament thinking I was going to win, but I thought I was going to play well. This was a really nice bonus."
Chen became the program's second state champion with Elizabeth Lumpkin, the only four-time girls singles champ in state history (2000-03). Chen, who lost only once this season, helped Naperville Central finish fifth (32 points) behind co-champions Hinsdale Central and Lake Forest (39), New Trier (38) and Stevenson (36).
"It's one of those things I never thought I'd see again, and it's great for our program," Naperville Central coach Don Bonet said of Chen's title. "She doesn't give up. She's like a backboard and she tracks everything down.
"Every time you think her opponent has a point she sticks with it and gets it back."
Both finalists endured marathon morning semifinals -- Chen beating 9-16 seed Carol Finke of New Trier 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 and the 5-8 seed Lorenzini beating top-seeded Alex Chatt of Lyons Twp. 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Chen won the final five games of the first set against Lorenzini. The fiery Lorenzini rebounded for a 4-1 lead in the second set, but it didn't faze Chen.
"Bella hit some amazing shots because she's a great player, but I just kept calm," Chen said of her frequent practice partner. "I tried to keep myself focused and play through it.
"I try to keep calm while I play matches. I don't want to give my opponent the mental advantage of knowing I'm upset."
Chen went up 5-4 and was serving for match point but Lorenzini answered to lead 6-5. Chen forced the tiebreaker and won three of the last four points.
"Last year coming in I was a little freshman not expecting to win anything," Chen said. "This year I had a little more pressure because I had to at least repeat fourth place."
Naperville Central's doubles team of Cindy Liu and Cass Goldner won their consolation bracket quarterfinal before falling to Hinsdale Central freshmen Danielle Burich and Erika Oku.
Burich and Oku took fifth to help the Red Devils increase their state records for titles to 14 and top-three trophies to 29. It was their second title in three years and sixth since 2006. The only other shared title was in 1986 between New Trier and Oak Park-River Forest.