Women’s Tennis: This Ferris doesn’t take days off

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Confidence is a strange thing.

When you don’t have it, a reachable feat suddenly becomes unattainable. When you do have it, you can do the unimaginable.

Take, for example, Utah women’s tennis star Liz Ferris.

Last October, Ferris was facing a monumental task in the main draw quarterfinals of the Central Regional Tournament in Tulsa, Okla. Her mission: to beat — or somehow find a way to compete against — national powerhouse Aurelija Miseviciute from Arkansas.

Going into the match, Ferris figured she was in over her head.

“I heard all of this stuff about her, and I looked up her record on the Internet and saw all of the good players she had beaten, and I kind of didn’t think I had a chance,” Ferris said. “I was just kind of overwhelmed.”

Needless to say, the result wasn’t pretty. Miseviciute routed Ferris to the tune of 6-2, 6-0.

The senior didn’t hang her head, though. She knew she would see Miseviciute again on Jan. 20 and it would be different.

“I knew I would get to play her on our home court at Eccles Tennis Center at high altitude, and I just felt like I had a better chance to beat her,” Ferris said. “I just thought if I went out there and played my own game, I could do it.”

When No.-1 Miseviciute and the Razorbacks came to Salt Lake City a week and a half ago, the story line was a bit different from the first meeting between the two.

Ferris kept Miseviciute off balance early and took the first set 6-2, but the Razorback responded with a 6-3 win in the second set. The final set saw the two fight back and forth, but in the end, Ferris fired a serve past Miseviciute, and the Ute pulled out a 7-5 win for the upset.

“I came in with the belief that I was going to win,” Ferris said. “I came in focused and just planned on playing my own game instead of thinking about other things. It’s probably the best win I’ve ever had.”

It’s weird what a little confidence can do for an individual.

The win took everybody in the collegiate tennis world by surprise. After all, it’s not often that an unranked athlete from the U knocks off the No.-1 player in the nation.

The one person it didn’t surprise though was Ferris’ coach, Mat Iandolo.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all when Liz beats a big-time player, because she’s capable of competing at a very high level,” Iandolo said.

Having inherited the majority of the athletes on the team when he was hired in the off-season, Iandolo was pleased to find an athlete of Ferris’ unique talent on the roster.

“She’s got a great all-court game,” Iandolo said. “Probably her biggest strength is that she doesn’t have a weakness. She can also play a lot of different styles. She can play aggressive, and she can also play defense.”

Ferris’ unique skill set will be vital to the Anaheim, Calif., native as she tries to pursue a professional career next year. The senior is aware of how difficult the jump to the professional level is, but with a little bit of the aforementioned confidence, anything is possible.

“If she wants to, she can do it,” Iandolo said. “She’s got the kind of game that would give her a chance if she wants to pursue it.”

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