OJAI — His name is Sheng, but he hopes some day it will be mentioned in the same sentence as Chang.
That day is surely a long way off, and it might never come.
But Thousand Oaks teenager Philip Sheng is off to a good start in following Michael Chang's quick footsteps.
He lost to top-seeded Cody Jackson of Westminster, 6-4, 6-4, Saturday at Libbey Park in the boys' 16-and-under championship of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament.
But the story is that Sheng, 13, upset the Nos. 2 and 3 players to confront 6-foot-3 Jackson, 16, ranked No. 2 in Southern California.
Sheng routed third-seeded Paul Warkentin, 6-1, 6-0, Friday in the quarterfinals.
He upset second-seeded Michael Marquez of Ventura, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, on Saturday morning.
Jackson was able to push Sheng around the court, but Sheng was able to break his serve three times.
"Huge, baby!," the kid hollered every time he hit a big winner.
"That's huge for me, to be grinding out there with a guy three years older than me, and with all these college guys around," Sheng said.
Chang was doing the same at 13. He turned pro three years later.
Sheng hopes to turn pro some day. And who better to look up to than Chang.
"I've never seen him tank a game," said Sheng, who fought off three match points before Jackson broke his serve to win. "Like him, I go for every ball, no matter how far away."
And who better to take a lesson from than Joe Chang, Michael's father? Sheng was able to arrange a one-time workout because the elder Chang attends the same church, the Chinese Christian Church of Thousand Oaks.
"It was insane," Sheng said. "We went for two hours, nonstop. When I asked for a water break, he just ignored me."
But the experience has contributed to Sheng's aggressive, never-say-die style.
He is on a first-name basis with Joe and Carl Chang, Michael's brother. What about Michael?
"I shook his hand," said the eighth-grader at Los Cerritos Junior High. "He signed a shirt and a ball for me."
Sheng's rise in the Ojai tournament, a key event for age-group rankings, is no fluke. He's rated among the top-20 in boys' 16s.
Most players his age compete in the 14-and-under division. But Sheng, who will be 14 on May 15, has out-grown his age group. He was No. 4 last year in the 14s, but he's six feet tall and too powerful.
Said Sheng: "I wouldn't get a match until the finals."