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Freshman phenom raises racket

Jason Ferlianto’s future contains big net profits

Posted: July 9, 2008 1:08 a.m.
Updated: September 9, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Jason Ferlianto is anxious for his sophomore season to begin at Canyon High.

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Marching band, check; 4.3 GPA, check; Key Club member, check; the Foothill League's No. 1 freshman tennis player, check.

Jason Ferlianto does it all. Oh, and he parlays his love of Bach and Mozart in piano competitions - a hobby he's had since his fingers could reach the keys.

Ferlianto's first love, though? Tennis.

As if being the section leader for the symphonic band, president-elect of the Key Club, juggling Advanced Placement classes, and playing the xylophone in the school marching band isn't enough, Ferlianto stood atop Canyon's boys tennis team.

He tried other sports, basketball, baseball, swimming, but tennis was what he excelled.

His father put a tennis racket in his hand at the age of four, practicing on the courts of Canyon High, the future home of his freshman tennis reign.

Before joining the Cowboys squad, head coach Eddie Perfecto was already aware of the young athlete's talent.

"He used to see me with my dad hitting on the Canyon High tennis courts," Ferlianto said.

Ferlianto was on the heels of some of the league's top competitors. The two towers from Valencia, Jack Zapala and Tyler Gottshall, proved to be Ferlianto's toughest competition this season.

However, Ferlianto's standout performance came in the league finals on May 1.

He ousted West Ranch's No. 1 singles player Jordan Hovis in an epic two-hour match.

The finals proved to be Ferlianto's ascent in Foothill league boys tennis.

Throughout the battle against Hovis, Ferlianto fought through muscle cramps, proving the importance of mental toughness in a sport that already requires a huge amount of physical strength.

For Ferlianto, that's the best part of tennis.

"It's a very mental sport," Ferlianto said. "You're out there by yourself and you have to be strong mentally to put yourself back in the game."

Ferlianto said his game is patterned after former American player Michael Chang.

Chang's biggest obstacle on court was his size.

Ferlianto faces the same impediment every time he steps onto the court.

Standing at 5-foot-6, Ferlianto's biggest attribute is his tenacity.

"He's consistent," Perfecto said. "Jason had a different upbringing. He had to construct points to get the victory. He can't overpower a lot of players, he just has to wear them out."

As with Chang, Ferlianto said that it's essential to be an invariable athlete.

"He won his matches because he was consistent," Ferlianto said. "He took his chances when he got the opportunity."

Ferlianto maximized on his opportunity this season to be the most dominant freshman tennis player in league.

"He has a yearning to play and play hard," Perfecto said. "Once you put him in a position where he needs to show up he knows when to turn on the switch."

He was the Cowboys' No. 1 singles player all season and much to his surprise completed a season that produced desirable results.

"The season was pretty good," he said. "I definitely improved from the beginning of the season. It was overwhelming at first but I got my groove back and was able to focus on my matches."

And for Ferlianto, continuing to progress is significant in maintaining his competitive edge.

"I think I have much to work on, you can never be perfect," he said. "Everybody can always be better and as years go by I hope to get better physically and mentally."

Ferlianto, though, still has a ways to go before he reaches his full capability.

Although he does not have plans to pursue a professional career in tennis, it remains his first love.

Despite the many sacrifices that come with playing tennis, i.e. giving up spending time with friends on the weekends, spending money for equipment etc., the joy of playing keeps him motivated to return to the court.

With his freshman season already behind him, he's already anxious for his sophomore debut.

"He has a lot of potential," Perfecto said. "He's come a long way from hitting with his dad on Saturdays."

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