The showdown between “American Idol” finalists Jessica Sanchez of Chula Vista and Phillip Phillips, Jr. of Leesburg, Ga. is scheduled for Tuesday.
Sanchez, a petite 16-year-old with a huge voice, could become the first female winner since Jordin Sparks, who won in 2007, when she was 17.
Sanchez is the second finalist from San Diego County, following Adam Lambert, a Mount Carmel High School alumnus who was runner-up in 2009.
The home-schooled high school junior was among the few to advance out of auditions for the 11th season of the Fox television program last July at Petco Park, among an estimated 9,000 other hopefuls.
“Being in the position I’m in now is more than I could have ever asked for,” she said after being named a finalist. “I’ve been looking forward to auditioning for `American Idol’ ever since the first season … It’s crazy what you can do when you put your mind and heart to it! I don’t know what could be better than this.”
Based on viewer votes, Sanchez almost went home a few weeks ago, but the judges used their one save to veto the viewers’ vote and keep her in the contest.
The acoustic guitar-strumming Phillips, 21, has been performing for three years. He sports a funky but effective style that leads judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to frequently coax him to stick with a song’s melody.
The final competition is scheduled to air Tuesday and the new idol will be crowned Wednesday on Fox. The winner receives a $1 million recording contract.
A concert tour with “Idol” participants is scheduled for this summer.