Bradley Frye can now call himself a champion of the clay.
Frye, an Overland Park resident and Barstow student, won the Boys’ 16-and-under doubles title with partner Blake Croyder at the USTA National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla.
Crowder, from Marietta, Ga., and Frye have played together four times in the past three years at tournaments like this, Frye said.
“We’re really good friends,” Frye said. “Getting first was a really big achievement for the both of us.”
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It was just one point of familiarity Frye encountered that helped him pave his way to the title.
He trains every month or two in Florida at Blackman Academy under coach Jose Caballero, he said, so he’s accustomed to the climate. He also trains on clay courts.
In fact, Frye prefers a clay court and has trained primarily on it for the last four years.
“My favorite surface is clay,” Frye said. “It favors sliding and fancy shots. It’s a kind of easy athleticism and takes different skill than hard court.”
Frye and Crowder drew a No. 9 seed in the tournament and ran the table, winning four straight sets between the semifinals and finals en route to the title.
After receiving a first-round bye, Frye and Crowder breezed through the next three matches, including an upset of the top-seeded duo of Abhijeet Joshi and Danny Thomas in the Round of 16.
Through those matches, the tandem required the minimum six sets to advance.
Frye and Crowder hit their first and only bump of the tournament. In the quarterfinals against Joshi and Thomas, the two pairs split the first two sets. The third and deciding set went to Frye and Crowder, who battled to a 10-7 win and advanced to the semifinals.
Frye said that their coaches made adjustments after the second set, and that he and Crowder reached a new level of intensity in the deciding game.
“We usually don’t get fired up,” Frye said, “but we got pumped up for this.”
In singles play, Frye was unseeded and lost in the Round of 128 in two sets — 6-4, 7-5 — shaking his confidence, he said.
“I had higher expectations for myself,” Frye said. “My confidence went down after that.”
But Frye’s doubles success restored his confidence, which comes at a pivotal time as he prepares for another tournament next month in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“Winning brought my confidence even higher than where it was before the tournament,” he said.