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Canyon freshman takes league title from No. 1 senior

Posted: May 2, 2008 2:21 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2008 5:02 a.m.

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The Foothill League boys tennis finals were the perfect setting for the ascent of Canyon's Jason Ferlianto from unassuming freshman to one of the league's top players.

Ferlianto took the top spot Thursday by upsetting West Ranch's Jordan Hovis in the championship match at the Paseo Club, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.

The freshman has been a surprise to most this season including his coach.

"Overall, Jason has grown so much," said Canyon head coach Edgar Perfecto. "He's been proving everyone wrong all season and I think that gave him a boost in his mentality."

Ferlianto entered into the finals tournament as the No. 3 seed while Hovis was seeded No. 1.

"I feel great about the win," Ferlianto said. "All the hard work coming into this was worth it."

The over two hour final match between Hovis and Ferlianto had both players coming out strong in the first two sets.

By the third set, the players struggled to overcome fatigue.

Ferlianto was showing obvious distress with a cramped knee, which he said had been bothering him since earlier in the day.

Ferlianto broke Hovis serve twice in the set, while Hovis broke Ferlianto once.

After Hovis held serve at 6-5, the set went into a tiebreaker and Ferlianto picked up the win 7-3.

"I went into the last set just having fun, late in the set I knew I had nothing to lose," Ferlianto said. "I was playing my game, being patient and just waiting for my opportunity."

Both players advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs.

Ferlianto had little trouble advancing to Thursday's finals dropping only two sets to his opponents with an easy first round win over Golden Valley's Andrew Rogue 6-0, 6-0, a win over Hart's Garrett Russikoff 7-6, 6-2 in the second and a three set win over West Ranch's Beau Martin 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in the third round.

In the doubles draw Valencia's Jack Zapala and Tyler Gottshall took the title.

It was no surprise to most when the two top singles players decided to enter the tournament as a doubles team and pull out a win.

"They were built as a doubles team," said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg. "They move well and are very intimidating up at the net."

Zapala and Gottshall breezed through the first round not allowing their opponents to score a single game winning 6-0, 6-0.

They dropped a set to Saugus' Tim Chin and Marc Liff in the second round 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, faced a tiebreaker in the third round against teammates Cameron Phillips and Michael Stewart (6-2, 7-6) and blew through a finals win against West Ranch's Jason Oh and Patrick Fuertes (6-1, 6-0).

Fuertes and Oh, who entered into the draw unseeded say they felt no pressure coming into the match knowing they were the underdogs.

"We felt like (with Jack and Tyler entering the draw) it took away the chance for us to get the title," Oh said.

But Oh and Fuertes still have a place in CIF playoffs and Spiecker says anything is possible when it comes to advancing.

"Jason and Patrick have amazing weapons," Spiecker said. "If Patrick serves well and Jason's forehand is well, they will win a round."

And things don't get any easier for Thursday's finalists.

Even with the dominance that Zapala and Gottshall have shown all season their only goal is to make it to day two of the playoffs.

"We made the decision to go into the playoffs as a team because we knew we had a better chance of going deep into CIF," Zapala said.

Valencia is currently ranked No. 4 in CIF Division II, the highest ranking the school has ever had.

"League play was all build up to CIF," said Gottshall. "At this point we are most worried about playoffs."

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