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Florida Tennis Briefs: Naples Resident Wins French Open Jrs.; SmashZone Tour Update

June 6, 2011 04:37 PM
Naples, Fla. Resident Fratangelo Wins French Open Jr. Title

fratangelo trophy
Bjorn Fratangelo (second from right) at the French Open
junior boys' trophy ceremony
Bjorn Fratangelo's combination of growing up playing claycourt tennis in Pittsburgh, then moving to Naples, Fla., to train with his father on clay, while also taking advantage of the claycourt coaching and training at the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton have added up to the U.S.'s first French Open junior champion since John McEnroe in 1977.

In last weekend's final the unseeded Fratangelo, who had never previously played the French Open juniors and was 0-2 career in junior Grand Slam tournament matches entering the event, defeated No. 14 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 3-6, 6-3, 8-6 for the title.

Named after Bjorn Borg by his father, Fratangelo credited the help of USTA coaching with contributing to his breakthrough.

"This surface was suiting my game well," Fratangelo told the media in Paris. "It helps my forehand jump through the court. I guess I never looked back, never got nervous. I was having a blast out there. And the USTA totally helped us -- Jay Berger, Dave Licker, Satoshi Ochi -- we have to thank them for everything they did."

Fratangelo and McEnroe are the only American males to win the Roland Garros boys' title since the Open Era began in 1968. Four American girls have won at the Roland Garros juniors: Jennifer Capriati (1989), Bonnie Gadusek (1981), Kathy Horvath (1980), and Anne Smith (1977).
Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of USTA Player Development, has been pushing for U.S. juniors to play more claycourt events and hone their games on the slow surface to aid in developing skills, constructing points, and developing physical and mental fitness. In Fratangelo, the U.S. finds an almost ready-made claycourter who took to the surface because there was a lack of hardcourts in good condition where he grew up.

"I learned really how to slide, how to move well on the surface," Fratangelo said of growing up playing on clay. "It taught me to construct points. Coming from indoor tennis, they just slap the ball one, two, three, point's over. But on clay...it's mental toughness. You really have to grind out the points long and hard, and you have to find other ways instead of just first-strike tennis."

Fratangelo's unique approach to tennis eschews international ITF and junior slam events in favor of U.S. events. He says he will pass on playing the upcoming junior Wimbledon event in favor of ITF and junior events closer to home.

USTA SmashZone Tennis Comes to Wal-Marts in Osprey, Venice, Fort Myers, Naples

SmashZone LogoThe United States Tennis Association's (USTA) SmashZone Mobile Tour at Florida Wal-Mart locations will visit Osprey, Venice, Fort Myers and Naples this week to introduce tennis to children of all ages and abilities.

SmashZone, the premiere interactive fan experience at the US Open, is now mobile and will introduce 10 and Under Tennis to kids and adults as part of USTA's youth initiative. The mobile tour will be at 16 participating Wal-Mart stores across the state of Florida in an effort to get kids active and lead a healthy lifestyle through sports and fitness.

SmashZone Wal-Mart stops this week include:

Thursday, June 9, 2011 in Osprey, FL
Walmart Store #5264 -- 13140 South Tamiami Trail. Osprey, FL 34229

Friday, June 10, 2011 in Venice, FL
Walmart Store #769 -- 4150 S Tamiami Trail, Venice, FL 34293

Saturday, June 11, 2011 in Fort Myers, FL
Walmart Store #987 -- 14821 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33912

Sunday, June 12, 2011 in Naples, FL
Walmart Store #1957 -- 11225 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL 34110

SmashZone is equipped with a tennis court, interactive games, prizes, and local tennis program information. Children will have the opportunity to play tennis games, such as Champion of the Court and a Target Challenge. The SmashZone is a complement to the USTA's ongoing youth participation initiative, 10 and Under Tennis.

10 and Under Tennis is part of an ongoing effort to encourage young people across the country to get active and start playing the sport. Similar to other youth sports where equipment and playing fields are scaled-to-size for kids, 10 and Under Tennis, utilizing the QuickStart Tennis play format, gives children age 10 and under the chance to achieve immediate success by playing tennis on smaller courts, using smaller and lighter racquets, and slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls.

These monumental changes to the sport make tennis more fun for kids by allowing them to learn and develop their skills in an enjoyable way, increasing the likelihood that kids will continue to play and continue to improve. The USTA Florida Section will be at all locations to provide 10 and Under Tennis program information and to get kids playing at their local tennis facilities.

For more information on the USTA SmashZone Mobile Tour at Florida Wal-Mart locations, contact Trina Singian, communications coordinator, USTA National, at (914) 697-2223 or singian@usta.com.






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