Message to In-N-Out Burger: Hold that Double Double with the two beef patties, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onions between a bun. That’s because Taylor Fritz, the world No. 1 junior and one of your great fans, won’t be stopping by as often as in the past when he gets back home to San Diego.
While the 17-year-old Fritz is still playing in the junior competition at this US Open—he won his first-round match, 6-4, 6-2, over Ugo Humbert of France on Sunday—Fritz now has to be, well, let’s say more professional in his choices.
That’s because Fritz, whose lanky 6-foot-4 frame hardly looks like In-N-Out burgers pass his lips, turned pro two weeks ago. That life decision comes along with some consequences, such as working to become a lean, mean tennis machine.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve given anything up,” Fritz said. “But I’m going to miss going to In-N-Out as much as I do when I’m home. But I’ll probably still go a little bit. When I’m home maybe (I go) once every two weeks, but that’s still pretty bad.
Fritz has been serious about pursuing a career in tennis for a number of years. A late bloomer to the international junior scene—he first came to attention when playing the 2013 US Open junior event—Fritz’s shown a mature approach to working towards improvement. Since reaching the French Open junior finals and Wimbledon junior semifinals for the second consecutive year, he’s even more dedicated to being all business.
“I’m making better decisions with training and dieting just because I have it in the back of my head that I’m a pro and I have to act like it,” he said. “So it’s kind of bringing on a sense of doing things different. I’m eating healthier. My diets already gotten a lot better. I’m training a lot harder. Getting massages, getting worked on when not feeling so well. I’m just doing all the maintenance and stretching, everything I need to stay healthy. On the court, I’m training harder, practicing better.”
Fritz has been aching to turn pro for a while, a fact he referred to constantly while at the recent French Open and Wimbledon. His father, Guy, who is listed as his coach and achieved a career high ranking in the 300s when he tried his hand at the ATP World Tour, was hoping his son would head to the University of Southern California to refine his game after completing high school. His mother, Kathy May, a former top 10 player on the WTA Tour, came around to his way of thinking and gave her blessing to his desire to turn pro.
In the end, Fritz was finally given the green light to follow his dream last month. His hope now is that USC’s loss will be the ATP World Tour’s gain.
“I’ve always been sure even when I was awful, I would say I’m turning pro,” Fritz said. “I think I’m ready and I”m going to take some time off just to train and to get the training I would be getting in college. That was the main reason my parents wanted me to go—or not both of my parents—but my dad wanted me to get stronger in college. But if I just take some time off I think I can do it better away from college than in college without the distractions. So that’s my plan and then I’ll come out around January, February and I’ll be ready to go.”
Fritz has been rather busy here at the Open.
Prior to the start of the juniors on Sunday, he played the US Open Qualifying Tournament in singles, the men’s doubles where he lost in the first round with recent Wimbledon boys’ champion Reilly Opelka, and the mixed doubles where he and Claire Liu lost to fourth seeds Martina Hingis and Leander Paes in the first round.
The defeat that hurt the most in that collection of matches was the 6-3, 6-3 failure against 19th seed Luca Vanni of Italy in the first round of qualifying.
“All I can say about the lows here is I was really upset when I lost the qualifying match because I worked so hard for that one moment and I went out and just played awful,” he said. “I like couldn’t put a ball in the court. I can’t even describe what happened on the court it was so bad, and I just couldn’t accept the fact that I did everything I did to do that in 45 minutes. That was really tough.”
But there’s been some highs as well at this US Open. He believes his game has improved from all the court time and practice he’s put in. And on a number of occasions he’s gotten to train with some of the best, such as Rafael Nadal.
And before Fritz leaves his junior career behind, he has an important goal in mind. Naturally, he would like to go away from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as the junior boys’ champion. But he is also hoping to secure the year-end No. 1 junior boys’ ranking. To that end, he might even play a couple of junior events in Mexico this fall to make that happen.
“It would be nice to get,” said Fritz of the year-end top ranking. “I’ve come all this way. I might as well put two more tournaments in the schedule just to finish it.”