(CBS Local/CBS Philly)- Taylor Fritz, like most athletes, has been itching to get back to competition since March. The 24th ranked men’s tennis player in the world, Fritz was in the midst of a strong start to his 2020 campaign when the sport paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Several months later, Fritz is getting the opportunity to get back on the court, joining the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis which begins play at The Greenbrier in Sulphur Springs, West Virginia this weekend on CBS Sports Network. The 22-year-old Fritz says that getting back to competition and the fun of playing in team events is what drew him to WTT.READ MORE: Garnet Valley Schools Superintendent Worries New Federal COVID-19 Testing Effort Could Disrupt Supplies
“It’s been pretty slow with any kind of competition for the past couple of months. So I think, for me, playing matches–actually being in real matches–is the best way to get myself playing the best tennis,” said Fritz in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “So I think going into Washington, the U.S. Open, playing World Team Tennis is going to help me a lot. And, it’s also a lot of fun.”
The Philadelphia Freedoms first match is set for Monday July 13 against the Orange County Breakers at 9 p.m. EST/PST on CBS Sports Network. Fritz says he’s looking forward to that first match not simply because he’ll be getting back out on the court but because he’ll be playing not only for himself but his teammates too.
“Aside from just being out there and competing, the team aspect of it is always fun. It’s always fun to play as part of a team and any other events that have that team aspect to it I always really enjoy,” said Fritz. “It just brings a different energy because you’re playing for all of these other people too.”
The fun comes partially from playing for your team but also, the level of competition which has taken an even bigger step up this year with WTT drawing some big names to its ranks. Joining Fritz on the Freedoms is top women’s player Sofia Kenin along with fellow Americans Taylor Townsend and Donald Young. Their first opponent, the Orange County Breakers, features 30th ranked Milos Raonic, 48th ranked women’s singles player Jennifer Brady and 30th ranked women’s doubles player Andreja Klepac. Then there’s other big names like Venus Williams, Monica Puig, Sam Querrey, Eugenie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens.READ MORE: Islanders Hand Flyers 8th Straight Loss
All of that talent makes for what should be an entertaining season, one in which Fritz believes the Freedoms are more than capable of thriving in.
“I know it’s a bit more stacked than usual because a lot of people really just want to get matches and play, so there are a lot of really strong teams. But, I don’t know, I think our team looks really solid all the way through if anything I’m one of the weaker links of the team,” said Fritz laughing. “We’ll have to see. But I feel like if I win my match, the rest of the team is going to do their part as well.”
The return to the court and competition is something Fritz has been looking forward to because he felt that the start to 2020 saw him playing some of the best tennis of his career.
“I felt really really good going into Indian Wells, which is a tournament I typically do well at, or can perform well at and then Miami I had no points to defend I just felt good about how I was playing and where I was with my ranking,” said Fritz.MORE NEWS: 'This Turnout Is Amazing': Haddonfield Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Fritz will now have the opportunity to get several weeks of competition in before the ATP returns in August. The first set of matches for World Team Tennis is set for Sunday, July 12 when the Orlando Storm takes on the Springfield Lasers before CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the event picks up with the Chicago Smash against the Las Vegas Rollers. Full schedule and broadcast information can be found on World Team Tennis’ official website.