By: Steve Pratt
FLUSHING, N.Y. – Now that the decision has been made, Taylor Fritz feels like he can relax and get down to the business of becoming a successful professional tennis player.
The 17-year-old Fritz from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., two weeks ago decided to forgo a full-ride scholarship to play at USC, instead signing a professional contract with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) where he will be managed by agent Rick Montz.
Fritz is currently the No. 1-ranked junior player in the world and the top seed in the U.S. Open Junior Boys’ Singles tournament, which began on Sunday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Fritz won his first round with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Ugo Humbert of France and next faces Yusuke Takahashi of Japan in the second round.
“I played it pretty safe today and felt confident in winning the match without going for all the shots I usually go for,” said Fritz, who lost in the first round of main draw qualifying here two weeks ago, and was granted a wild card in both men’s and mixed doubles.
Fritz said he would like to finish the year as the No. 1 junior in the world, which may mean playing two more events closer to his home in Mexico.
“It would be nice to get the No. 1 ranking at year-end,” he said. “I’ve come all this way so I might as well go for it. But that will be it. I’ll play this and two more junior tournaments. But I’m not going to play Eddie Herr or Junior Orange Bowl or go back to Japan. It’s not worth it to me to do that.”
Fritz said he knew he wanted to turn pro, but his father and former pro player Guy Fritz wanted him to get stronger with one year of playing college tennis. “I’ve always been sure about turning pro,” he said. “Even when I was awful I still was saying I’m going to turn pro. I’ll take some time off just to train. That was the main reason my dad wanted me to go to college; to get stronger. But I think I can do it better doing it away from college than doing it in college because I won’t have the distraction of school.
“I’ll come out around January or February and be ready.”
Fritz said he is already making better decisions now that he is professional. “I’m doing better with training and dieting,” he said. “I’m now a pro and I have to act like it. I’m eating healthier. My diet has gotten a lot better.”
He said the thing he’ll miss most about his diet choices is “going to In and Out when I’m home.”
Fritz practiced with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in New York, and said his game has improved a lot since he’s been here. “Surprisingly I’ve gotten a lot of court time and been able to work on a lot of things,” he said. “Everything just really feels good right now.”
Fritz said he loves watching Del Potro play because he’s so strong from both sides, but that his favorite all-time player is Pete Sampras.