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Top seed Tristan Stratton of New York comfortable on Dothan tennis courts



Top seed Tristan Stratton of New York comfortable on Dothan tennis courts

Though Tristan Stratton hails from Forrest Hills, N.Y., he feels somewhat at home within the surroundings of the Westgate Tennis Center in Dothan.

“I’ve played here three times, actually,” Stratton said. “I play well on these courts, so I enjoy it.”

Stratton is the No. 1 seed this week in the USTA Boys’ 14 National Clay Court Championships Tournament being held at three facilities – WTC, Azalea Swim & Tennis Club and Dothan Country Club. Players from 33 different states are in town to compete in the week-long tournament which is slated to conclude Sunday.

Stratton is ranked No. 3 nationally.

For Stratton, a 14-year-old who plays in tournaments across the country and is ranked No. 3 nationally, the humid, muggy conditions in the South are something he’s become accustomed to.

“I mean, it’s a lot different (as compared to New York) of course, but I’m used to it now because a lot of tournaments are at places where it is hot,” Stratton said. “It’s definitely a lot hotter here than most places, but I handle it pretty well.”

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Stratton has practically grown up playing tennis.

“My mom got me a racket when I was probably like 2 years old,” Stratton said. “I started playing when I was like 3 ½ or 4, maybe. Gradually I took lessons and got better. I played like five days a week and now I play every day.

“I played baseball and basketball, too, until I was 12 and then this just kind of took over.”

During a rain delay Tuesday, Stratton interacted with a group of other players. Meeting other teens from throughout the country is something he thoroughly enjoys.

“It’s definitely fun, especially when you play them,” Stratton said. “I like playing different kinds of kids when I go to these tournaments and just hanging out with the kids that I know, or from different states.

“For example, I went to the water park (Water World) earlier in this tournament for a player party and that was really fun hanging out with them.”

When he gets on the court, it’s all business.

“I move the ball around well and I’m very consistent,” Stratton said of his strengths. “I like using drop shots, especially on these clay courts they work well, so that’s probably what I do best.”

He also understands tennis can be a mental game.

“I’d say when I was younger, I was a lot more like angry, but now I’m taking it by point and more used to it,” Stratton said.

As for being the top seed in this tournament, Stratton doesn’t think that much about it.

“I think it’s a little more pressure … but I feel the same as I did last year when I was a 12 seed,” Stratton said. “I’m just going to do the best that I can.

“I definitely know I can win it, but I also know there are a lot of other good players that are going to want to win it also.”

On Tuesday, Stratton won his second match of the tourney with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Nirbhay Agarwal.

Stratton has some lofty goals.

“I’m going to go as far as possible,” Stratton said of tennis. “It’s not like I have just a goal to play college tennis … it’s the goal to play pro tennis.”

His favorite pro tennis player is Holger Rune.

“He kind of plays like me in a sort of way,” Stratton said. “And just his attitude around other people.”

Matches are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. each day and run throughout the afternoon. The event is open to the public and free for spectators to attend.

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