TENNIS PLAYER STARS IN
LL WORLD SERIES
Ron Cioffi | August 22, 2018
Hitting to left field is much like my backhand.
(Chase Fralick is picture above, celebrating Peachtree City's walkoff victory over Texas and holding his Southern Closed Boys’ 12 Championship trophy.)
Chase Fralick, who won the Southern Closed Boys’ 12 Championship in June, is the catcher on the Peachtree City, GA, team competing in the Little League World Series (LLWS). The Georgia team won four straight games but fell to eventual champion Hawai'i in the U.S. championship game.
The two-sport athlete has been juggling a busy schedule in the last five months when he was chosen for the baseball team to represent his hometown. Even though he has been concentrating more on his baseball swing than his forehand since June, he is currently ranked No. 8 in singles in USTA Southern and No. 95 nationally. He said the attention he’s getting at the LLWS is off the charts. ADVERTISEMENT “My phone is going crazy. After a game, I get 20 texts. Everybody wants to be part of it.”
While Chase sees many similarities between the two sports, the team aspect of baseball makes having a tough day a little easier. “The big difference is the team environment. Even if you go 0-4 and make two errors, your teammates will pick you up. It’s not all about you that made you win or lose,” he explained in a phone interview earlier this week.
As starting catcher, Chase has the most defensive responsibility on the field, much like any singles player. “Catching helps you see the field and what going to happen to the result of that ball. You map out what is going to happen.” He said this is much like how a tennis player must survey the court and anticipate what shot your opponent is going to hit.
If you watch the LLWS, you’ll see the clean-up hitter, who is batting more than .320. He will be hitting left-handed. But, on the court, he is right-handed.
“Yes, hitting to left field is much like my backhand down the line,” he said during a phone interview from Williamsport, PA.
“You have a lot more concentration on a few swings in baseball compared to tennis,” he added. Comparing the two swings, he said, “It’s very easy and feels like I’ve done it a million times.”
In both sports, he added, “You’ve got to be clutch. … Hitting is a lot like going for your forehand on match point.”
Chase’s father, Jonathan, is the Peachtree Center Tennis Center’s general manager and tennis coach and formerly the head professional at the Cary (NC) Tennis Park. He has helped his son balance the demands of excelling in two sports. Chase plays about 8 tennis tournaments a year while also playing on the Five Star national baseball team based in Florida.
Jonathan explained, “I feel Chase’s baseball keeps him from being mentally drained [by] playing one sport. It creates a balance and increases the focus when he is at baseball practice or tennis practice because he does not have a ton of time to waste, therefore he focuses longer for shorter periods.”
Not all aspects of tennis and baseball coincide. Jonathan dissects the two swings and notes that the baseball swing is all about keeping your weight on the back foot while tennis success comes when you swing out. “Baseball is about big, big and bigger, while tennis is about quickness and explosiveness. His fitness is what is tested the most, especially mid-season for baseball.”
Chase can joke about how his friends think that tennis isn’t very demanding. “They all think they can beat me in tennis. Sometimes when we’ll be at home, I will play with my opposite hand and let them beat me.”
Here’s one lesson for the Peachtree City boys: It’s hard to beat a two-sport achiever.