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SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW '98

Attrition Gives Jackson a Better View

Boys' tennis: Los Alamitos junior's size, work ethic will work in his favor, especially with some top players passing up season.

March 17, 1998|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ALAMITOS — So immersed in fine-tuning his game, Los Alamitos junior Cody Jackson has barely noticed that his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame is a little more imposing than it was a month ago. Jackson knew Woodbridge's Chase Exon and David Lingman weren't playing high school tennis, but he wasn't aware Foothill's Joost Hol was out of the picture too.

"I haven't really been following it," Jackson said. 'It would have been nice to see how we would have fared against [Woodbridge], but I can't worry about it."

Jackson would rather worry about taking his rapidly developing serve-and-volley game to the next level. For two years, Jackson has been able to win matches on size and power alone. But now Jackson is realizing, he has to find other ways to win.

"Everyone's kind of caught up," Jackson said. "Now I'm paying a little bit of a price for it. Maybe I didn't work as hard as they did because I didn't have to. Now I'm working harder than ever."

Most of Jackson's work is being done with his longtime coach, Frank McCabe, who is in the process of transforming Jackson's game.

"Cody is making a big transition now," McCabe said. "He's becoming an attacking tennis player. He's very erratic right now, but that's a natural flow. He's become an attacker of the net, he just doesn't know when to do it and how to go about it. That's why he's having so many strange results."

Most of Jackson's results in high school have been good ones. Last year, he won 54 of 59 dual matches, won the Sunset League singles title over Esperanza's Tom Lloyd and also took the Ojai boys' 16 championships. In the year-ending section individual singles tournament, Jackson reached the round of 16 before losing to Jaime Sahara of Santa Maria St. Joseph's, 6-4, 6-3.

Jackson, a second-team Times All-County selection last year, said he's still looking for more.

"I'd like to get a little further at [the individual tournament], maybe at least the quarters or the semis," Jackson said. "I think our team has a good chance of winning the [section] title."

Geoff Carter, Los Alamitos' coach, believes Jackson has a chance at a "trifecta" this season--the Ojai boys' interscholastic title and the section individual and team titles.

McCabe isn't looking that far ahead.

"This whole transition usually takes about two years," McCabe said. "Cody's been at it eight months. Pete Sampras had to leave the tour to change his game to an attacking style the way Cody is. I think Cody is on his way up. It'll be interesting to see what happens. I think this kid's going to be a tennis player."

But McCabe admits he wasn't so sure of that six years ago when he first began teaching Jackson.

"I've never seen anything so clumsy and klutzy in my life," McCabe said. "After five weeks, he'd had enough of me and I'd had enough of him. He came back to me after a while and finally, we clicked."

Jackson said he hasn't been waiting to grow into his body.

"I guess it was very awkward for me," he said. "I was pretty much all over the place before, but I've learned to control more now."

Part of that control has come as Jackson has filled out. Since he started on Lewis' weight program, Jackson has added seven pounds of bulk.

"I'm beginning to get more comfortable and confident in my play," Jackson said.

But because of Jackson's quiet persona, it's often hard to see that confidence.

"He's a hard kid to read," Lewis said. "It might look like he's down, but he's really just being himself."

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PRESEASON TOP 10

Corona del Mar: Can boys' team duplicate what girls did?

Los Alamitos: Jackson-Hoskins: a great 1-2 punch

Woodbridge: Third section title in a row is longshot

Sunny Hills: Missing a dominant singles player

Dana Hills: Two transfers make up for loss of Fallon

Mission Viejo: Might be Smith's strongest team

Esperanza: Lloyd finally getting some help

Servite: Fumanti will be sorry to see Moore go

Aliso Niguel: Wolverines return Kan and Mednick

Garden Grove: No stars, but plenty of depth

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