|Andrew Fenty. © Jonathan Kelley.A|
A few weeks ago, while at the USTA Boys 16s & 18s National Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I spoke to two young players who caught my attention -- Siddharth Chari of California and Andrew Fenty of Washington, D.C. 16-year-old Fenty trains at the JTCC, and was seeded #27 at the Nats (he's currently the #222-ranked junior in the world). The match I watched saw Fenty go down an early break against JanMagnus Johnson, then come back to win the last 10 games of the match. He would win his next match in straight sets before falling to #6 seed Axel Nefve 7-6(6) 6-3 in the 4th round. (As he did last year, Fenty went on to play and win several matches in the feed-in tournament.)
What is your name?
Where are you from?
Where do you train?
I train at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md.
There have been some big names that have come through there, correct?
Yes, Denis Kudla, Frances Tiafoe. We have a player who just won Wimbledon juniors doubles, Usue Arconada. Yeah, they're great players.
When did you start playing?
I started playing when I was 4.
What would you say are the strengths of your game?
The strengths of my game are probably to mix up the pace and just give my opponents different looks throughout the match.
Did you think you did that well in your match today?
I think I did that very well, especially in the end of the first set, and all the way through the second.
You went down 4-2 in the first set, and then you got the next 4 games. What changed?
I started figuring out his weaknesses, I started moving him to his forehand side, started serving better - serving wide and hitting the first ball into the open court. Started playing more of an aggressive game, taking more risks.
Do you really try to think your way through a match as much as possible?
Sure. That’s how you win matches here.
What was your road to get to the Nats?
My only way into this tournament was winning a sectional. If I didn't win it, I wouldn't have played this tournament.
Who did you play in the sectional final?
His name was Joseph Brailovsky. He won today, he's from my academy.
Are you guys friends? Friendly rivalry?
Great friends, yeah.
It it tough playing a friend in such a high-stakes match?
Of course, always hard. But, you know, we'll be fine after the match.
What would you say is your favorite surface?
I like clay a lot.
What do you like about it?
Longer points, you get to find weaknesses, and it's just fun to compete on the surface.
You have a brother who also plays, true?
Yeah, I have a twin. He's here right now, he's watching me. He just had hip surgery. He's coming back, he’s doing physical therapy right now. Hope to see him back soon.
Are you in the process of thinking about college tennis?
Is that an aspiration of yours?
My ultimate goal is to play professional tennis. I don't know if that will be before college or a couple of years after college.
What do you think you have to do to reach the level of becoming a professional player?
Probably just work harder, better fitness, better eating habits, better training. Just getting better every day, at least 1%. Just 1% every day.
When you hit against a guy like Frances Tiafoe, do you learn stuff just from playing against him?
Yeah, every day. When he comes back from pro tournaments, even when we're not on the court, you're always learning. Always learning what professional tennis is like.
I was here last year when he played in the final, and that was just crazy. It was an unbelievable match.
Obviously you come from a high profile family. [Andrew's father was mayor of Washington, D.C.] Is that something that people know you for?
Yeah, in D.C. a lot. But as soon as you play international, sometimes people will say stuff, but not as much.
Would you say it has impacted you in any way?
Everyone knows who you are, I guess. You play tournaments and people will be like, "You're him" or something.
Do you go into a tournament like this thinking you have a chance of winning the whole thing?
For sure. I think I'm one of the favorites, or a person who could win the tournament.
How long have you had the beard?
Oooh, recent. Just letting it grow. Probably for the whole tournament, then I’ll shave.
Your playoff beard.
[Laughs.] Yeah, my playoff beard. My Kalamazoo beard.
What's your favorite sport other than tennis?
What’s your favorite team?
Wizards. Washington Wizards.
Thanks very much for your time.