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The World On A String

Freshman Ferlianto Blends Music, Tennis in Harmony for Hart


NEWHALL — It doesn't matter if it's a tennis racket or a piano. Jesse Ferlianto handles both string instruments well.

Ferlianto, a freshman at Hart High, was ranked No. 15 in Southern California and No. 41 in the nation in the boys' 14 division by the U.S. Tennis Assn. last year. This season, he has stepped into the No. 1 singles slot on the Hart boys' tennis team and has a record of 29-4, helping the Indians to a 10-1 record.

But Ferlianto is probably an even more accomplished classical pianist and all-around musician. A member of Hart's Chieftains Jazz Ensemble, Ferlianto plays piano and drums and is a regular participant in national-level concert-piano and accordion competitions.

"I actually have more music trophies than I do tennis trophies," Ferlianto said.

Weekends are filled with competitions in both arenas.

Two weekends ago, Ferlianto was selected top performer in the Music Teachers Assn. of California Bach Festival, a competition that included 35 pianists of all ages.

The previous weekend, Ferlianto was in Florida competing in the boys' 16 division of the Easter Bowl Junior Tennis Championships, where he advanced to the second round in singles and doubles.

He advanced to the round of 32 in boys' 14s in the USTA national clay-court championships last summer and to the round of 16 in the same division at the national indoor championships in Chicago in November.

Before that, he earned first- and second-place awards for performances on the piano and fourth place on the accordion at the 1998 Accordion Federation of North America competition last August.

"They're good contrasts from each other," Ferlianto said of tennis and music.

"I like them both equally. I spend more time on tennis. It takes hours and hours of practice. Music, I'm really serious, but I don't spend as much time with it and I can still get a lot out of it. I guess I'm a little more talented in music."

Despite his success in tennis and music, Ferlianto sees neither pastime as his full-time future.

"Tennis gets harder and harder as you move up the ranks, and there are millions of great pianists out there," he said.

Instead, Ferlianto, who has a 4.5 grade-point average in college-prep and honors-level classes, would like to focus on molecular biology or medical research as a career.

He appears to have the aptitude for that line of work. Ferlianto took the SAT as an eighth-grader as part of a talent search by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and scored 1,320, including 770 in math.

"A lot of the things I do are geared for the future and striving forward and higher," he said. "I just want to do my best in everything and then see what happens."

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