In the 2015 World TeamTennis season, the San Diego Aviators introduced a promising junior named Taylor Fritz to tennis fans, bringing the 17-year-old on the roster to play alongside another American rising star, Madison Keys. Three years later, the Aviators welcome Fritz back to the team, where the Rancho Santa Fe native will headline the season opener on July 15 against the Springfield Lasers at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.
“What’s really exciting about having Taylor coming back playing for San Diego in his hometown is that I feel with his game, he really is the next hope for the USA,” says Aviators GM Jim Ault. “He’s Top 10 potential, and who knows — once you get into that Top 10, anything can happen. He moves well, with a big serve, big forehand, and he’s growing into his game, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to see how much he’s improved up close and personal since he played with us as a junior right before he turned pro.”
It’s been a whirlwind three years for Fritz. After closing out his first WTT season, he went on to win the US Open junior title in September of that year and turned pro less than a month later. With a solid performance right out of the gate, he saw his ATP ranking skyrocket to inside the top 200 by November 2015. He married Raquel Pedraza in July 2016 and his son, Jordan, was born the following January. This year, he thrilled fans at Indian Wells, reaching the Round of 16 before falling to fellow ATP Next Gen player Borna Coric. Most recently, Fritz defeated US No. 15 Jack Sock in Lyon, France this week to reach the quarterfinals on clay at the Open Parc Avergne-Rhône-Alps.
We caught up with Fritz before he heads to the storied red clay of Roland-Garros, where he’ll take on a qualifier in the first round of the French Open.
Aviators: You were the number one draft pick for the Aviators in 2015, and then kicked off your pro career after taking the US Open junior title a few weeks later. Does that first WTT season seem like a million years ago because of all that’s happened since?
Taylor Fritz: Because everything has been so fast in my life since winning the junior US Open, the first season I played [WTT] really didn’t seem like it was too long ago. It’s awesome that I can come back and join the team I played with my first season. I’m really excited to be back in San Diego. It’s been a while since I’ve just been home for a couple days. It’s going to be fun to play for my home team.
Aviators: What prompted you to return to WTT and the Aviators?
TF: In tennis, you don’t really get the chance to experience being on a team. I played a bunch of team sports when I was younger, which is something I always miss from tennis. It’s really fun being in that environment. I like how WTT is more high energy, so I’m looking forward to playing.
Aviators: You’ve had a lot of changes in your personal life in the past couple years – you are recently married and have a toddler now. How, if at all, does that change your perspective and how you approach your career?
TF: I think all the changes in my life just motivate me and push me harder to achieve my goals.
Aviators: What’s the highlight of your career so far, and what’s the No. 1 goal you’re working toward?
TF: The highlight of my career so far was making it to the fourth round at Indian Wells in front of my home crowd, and what I am working towards is becoming the best player in the world.
Aviators: Pete Sampras is one of your tennis idols. What does it mean to you to now be coached by one of his former coaches, Paul Annacone?
TF: Having Paul on my team is a really big deal for me because of the respect I have for him as a coach and the belief/confidence I have in what he tells me, because he has worked with so many incredible players.
Aviators: Is there anything specific you’re really looking forward to doing or seeing while you’re in town during the season? I know this isn’t your home anymore, but what things are you going to be sure to hit while you’re here?
TF: I’m looking forward to playing in front of my friends and hitting some of my favorite Mexican restaurants in San Diego when I’m back. (Fritz says Jorge’s in Encinitas is his fave.)
Aviators: Torrey Pines High School, where you attended, is undefeated this season (18-0 overall) and are No. 1 in the San Diego Section D1 standings. Want to send them a message of congratulations?
TF: For sure, Torrey is always so strong in tennis and having an undefeated season is a big deal. I don’t think we were even able to do that the year I played, so congrats to them and I hope they can win the CIF title!
Aviators: Do you have a secret talent off the tennis court?
TF: Off court I like to think I’m an extremely talented video gamer.
Aviators:What would people be surprised to learn about you?
TF: I think people would be surprised to know how seriously I take video games.
Aviators: What do you like to do when you’re off the court?
TF: When I’m off court I like to be with family, friends of mine, or just relax and play video games.
Taylor we look forward to seeing you on court July 15 and 16!