Southern California’s Taylor Fritz always seems to play his best tennis in his own backyard.
For the second year in a row, Fritz of Rancho Palos Verdes, and a rising star on the ATP Tour, came straight from Melbourne and the Australian Open to the Newport Beach Tennis Club to capture the Oracle Challenger Series singles title.
In the end, it was Fritz’s serve that got him through the tough moments and he managed to fire off an impressive 16 aces against Canadian Brayden Schnur to win the match 7-6 (7), 6-4.
Even though he’s played all over the world, there’s just nothing like being at home. “It’s the best,” Fritz said with a smile. “I always play my best tennis in California. I had all of my friends from school here, my whole family, my mom, my dad, my wife, my son – everyone came out.”
Fritz added: “I told myself, it doesn’t really matter how well he serves, if I just focus on my serve and I don’t get broken,” said Fritz. “I feel really confident in tiebreakers so I told myself, ‘make him beat me in tiebreakers, worst case scenario.’ ”
The two-time Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach champion has more to celebrate, a career-high ranking of World No. 40. “It’s really important for me to start the year strong,” explained Fritz, who hopes to be in the top 20 by the end of the year. “I usually slow down a bit when the Europe swing comes around so I need to get as much of a lead on other people in the race as I can going into that season.”
This victory places Fritz at the top of the Road to Indian Wells leaderboard, next to Oracle Challenger Series Houston champion Bradley Klahn. Though, since neither Fritz nor Klahn, who both earned spots at the BNP Paribas Open based on their rankings, are in need of a wild card, that leaves the men’s race wide open. The Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells, which kicks off next month, leaves the coveted wild cards up for the taking. “It’s a big opportunity to get a chance on the big stage for these guys who aren’t ranked as high,” said Fritz. “It’s awesome that Oracle provides these opportunities for Americans.”