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Tennis Star Taylor Fritz

A member of the Junior International Tennis Federation (ITF), the 17-year-old left Torrey Pines High School his sophomore year. This month, Fritz plays Wimbledon and then returns home for his first match with the San Diego Aviators at Omni La Costa Resort July 12.
Photo by Ray Giubilo

By Erin Meanley Glenny

The Rancho Santa Fe native called us recently from Spain, where he had stopped to train between playing Milan’s Trofeo Bonfiglio tournament and making it to the boys’ final of the French Open (as of press time, he is ranked the number one junior in the world).

As the son of two tennis pros, was there any way you could have not gone into tennis?

If my parents had let me play tackle football! That’s what I always wanted to do but wasn’t allowed. I’ve played every sport but was best at tennis. I started playing tennis when I was two, stopped for a bit, then got serious when I was seven. That’s when I started playing tournaments.

What’s something people don’t know about tennis?

Tennis isn’t considered a very physically demanding sport. But [every day] we practice two to three hours on court and do one hour of fitness, and then the same thing again after lunch. It’s hard work. Some of my friends complain about the fitness they have to do on the TPHS football team, and I’m like, “Dude, shut up, it’s not even close.”

How do you react to meeting the big dogs?

I’ve met [Novak] Djokovic. I was nervous because I warmed him up before his final match against [Roger] Federer. The pros don’t want to warm up with other pros, so the [US] Federation matches you up. I had lost the day before in the junior at Wimbledon, so I was still there [in town]. They knew I’d love to do it. I said, “That’d be incredible.” He was very thorough, practicing everything he would need to practice. It was cool to see how professional he was.

What’s next after the French Open?

I’ll go home and then go to Wimbledon [June 29–July 12]. I’m really excited. Grass is my favorite surface. I think I have a good chance of winning it. I’m pretty good under pressure.

San Diegans can also see you live, playing with the Aviators. What made you want to play on a team?

Andy Roddick once said World Team Tennis helped him transition into the pros. You’re playing against professionals and surrounded by a team of professionals. Not a lot of people get to play it when they’re as young as I am. I will get a lot of experience.

Doesn’t playing make you professional?

As long as I don’t take the money, I’m NCAA-eligible. If I turn pro before the season starts in July, then I’ll take the money.

Your dad doesn’t want you to turn pro too early because of the physical demands and injuries that could take you out of the sport prematurely.

I was sure about college, but now I’m thinking it would be better to go pro. My dad will say, “What about USC?” And I’ll say, “Things are different now. I’ve had a lot of good results.” The French Open and Wimbledon will help with the decision.

What are you most proud of?

My serve or the way I play on the court. I’m known to play pretty aggressively and go for big shots. That’s my style. I just have to keep building on that.

Indian Wells, 10 March 2015 FRITZ, Taylor Harry (USA) Photo Ray Giubilo

Photo by Ray Giubilo

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