February 16th, 2016
Florida’s Fratangelo Brings Coach Stine, New Attitude into 2016
Boca Raton-based tennis pro Bjorn Fratangelo watched Taylor Fritz’s breakout last week at the Memphis Open with a mixture of awe, nostalgia., and maybe a bit of dread
He knows about break-out performances and the frenzied expectations that follow.
In 2011 Fratangelo won the French Open junior boys’ championship as an unseeded player, peaking interest in the little-known player who was suddenly on par with John McEnroe as the only Americans to win the title in the Open Era.
“With what Taylor’s doing, I don’t think anyone else in ATP history has rose faster than he’s risen,” Fratangelo said of the 18 year old. “You know, he’s very good.”
Fritz is now dealing with the expectation and adoration of tennis fans and the media this week in Delray Beach after reaching the Memphis final in only his third career ATP event.
It’s a spotlight Fratangelo knows only too well after bursting onto the international tennis scene as a 17 year old.
“Yeah for me the French juniors win came out of nowhere, being No. 2 in the world juniors came out of nowhere, a lot of that was unexpected and I had to sort of mature a lot,” the 22-year-old Fratangelo told USTA Florida following his first-round doubles match Monday in Delray Beach.
“From the standpoint of this is what I’m doing, it was a full commitment, where as before I was just playing to enjoy myself. I was good at it and I like competing, and it was going to get me a college scholarship.”
After a solid 2015 that ended on some sour notes, Fratangelo is now a couple weeks in with new coach Brad Stine, who helped Jim Courier to the world No. 1 ranking, in addition to working with Mardy Fish and numerous other players over the years.
“At the end of 2015 I had a little bit of an injury problem and some poor results,” he said. “I was tired throughout the whole year. I played a hell of a lot of matches, I was exhausted from that, and I had a death in the family, and I think everything just played its course…Thought my 2015 was very good. Could have ended better.”
Working out of the USTA Professional Development headquarters in Boca Raton, Fratangelo feels he has the right team around him to make a significant leap ahead in 2016.
“With the USTA I think they’ve helped me so much with providing a coach for me and the fitness aspect, so I feel like it’s a group thing and not so much just on myself,” he said. “I have a lot of people backing me, and my family as well, and I feel like I can make a jump here and I have a lot of support.”
It’s been a tough February already for the six-year Boca Raton resident, who found himself one match from reaching the main draw in both Memphis and Delray Beach, but he came up short both weeks in the final round of qualifying.
But the silver lining for Fratangelo is playing well enough to reach that final hurdle, and it gives him a chance to employ his new mantra for 2016 — work hard, keep smiling, and good things will come.
“It hasn’t been the most stellar start to the year, but you grow,” he said outside of the stadium court of the Delray ATP stop. “I want to be at this level more, and it will take some adjustment to get to this level. Yesterday [in the final round of qualifying] I feel like I played very poorly, but the positive was to be that close, even though I was playing pretty bad. I have a lot to improve on and it shows that my ceiling is high, I think. I’ve got to keep being in it, keep having fun, keep smiling, and good things will happen.”