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Ten Questions with World Junior No. 1 Taylor Fritz
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Just over two years ago, Taylor Fritz played his first International Tennis Federation junior tournament, the Claremont Grade 4, which is within driving distance of his San Diego area home. Last month, after reaching the French Open boys final, where he lost to Tommy Paul in the first all-American final in that tournament's history, Fritz took over the No. 1 spot in the ITF junior rankings. Currently holding titles from the Grade A Osaka Cup, Grade 1 Yucatan Cup and Grade B1 Easter Bowl, Fritz has reached the Wimbledon boys semifinals two years in a row, with his losses to champions Noah Rubin and Reilly Opelka.

ITF Junior No. 1 Taylor Fritz
courtesy, Paul Ballard
The 6-foot-4 right-hander, who cites seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras as his "biggest tennis idol," won his first ATP match last month on grass in Nottingham, beating Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, ranked 66th, 6-1, 6-4. He hit with 17-time slam champion Roger Federer at Wimbledon, and is currently playing World Team Tennis with the San Diego Aviators.

The son of former WTA Top 10 player Kathy May Fritz and Guy Fritz, a former touring pro who has served as his son's coach, Fritz did not focus solely on tennis until his sophomore year in high school. He attended Torrey Pines High School, where he played basketball in addition to tennis, deciding to leave the traditional school environment for Laurel Spring Online High School midway through his sophomore year to accommodate the increase in travel. Fritz, who turns 18 in October, has not yet signed with a sports management agency, although many of his peers, including Opelka, Paul, Frances Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh have already declared themselves professionals and are bypassing college tennis.

In a series of media conferences during the Wimbledon Junior Championships, Fritz answered questions posed by me and several other journalists about his goals, expectations and his upcoming decision on turning pro.

 

Questions and Answers

Q: What's changed most in your game since you were playing in the USTA 14s and 16s?

Taylor Fritz (TF): I've told this story a lot of times. I went to a USTA camp when I was about 15, a freshman in high school, and I was playing high school basketball at the time. I was thinking about playing high school lacrosse later in the year. I was the last or second to last person to be selected for the thing. There were 16 kids there, supposed to be the best 15- and 16- year-olds in the country and I just got destroyed.

Fritz signs autographs at Wimbledon
courtesy, Paul Ballard
Every one was better than me. I was definitely not as good as I thought I was for my age. I had two options, I could be like, 'Whatever, it's ok', and probably just go away from tennis a little bit, or decide to just work as hard as I can and try to catch up to those kids. And by the end of the time, I was there. I still wasn't at their level, but I started playing better and I was working so hard when I was there.

When I got home, I stopped with basketball, stopped with lacrosse and just focused on tennis. I started working so hard. That's the biggest difference. I was so lazy and didn't play a lot of tennis. I just started working really hard and I caught up.

 

Q: Has your perspective changed now that you are No. 1 in the world?

TF: There's more expectation, but what's making me nervous is not the expectation others put on me, it's my personal expectations. I feel like I should do well this year. It's tough because you know everyone is going to be coming for you; they've got nothing to lose against you. I've had that happen to me several times before, where I've been one of the top seeds and someone comes out with nothing to lose and plays a really, really good match. So that's what I always have to be careful about. I can't take anything lightly, and I have to have my full focus every match.

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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