Tennis Prose



Biofile: John Paul Fruttero

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: ATP doubles ranking is 221. Best singles ranking was 183 in 2005, best doubles ranking was 83 in 2012.

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180

DOB: April 30, 1981 In: Montebello, CA

First Tennis Memory: My father put a little rope between the car and the tree with a little net. And I would be hitting with him back and forth when I was three and a half years old.

Tennis Inspirations: Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Boom Boom Boris Becker, Yannick Noah diving. Love playing with energy, love the charismatic characters out there. And I try to be a little bit different myself. Try to kinda entertain the crowd I guess. My first focus is to actually entertain, and if I win, that’s kind of a bonus.

Nicknames: JP, PJ, Nips, Fruit Cake, Fruit Bat, there’s quite a few.

Greatest Career Moment: I beat Pete Sampras, twice in two weeks. WTT. Sellout crowd in LA. Match point I hit a second serve ace in front of a home crowd. That was pretty surreal. Pretty cool. Against someone I idolized, that I look up to. Won the whole team event with that. Pretty cool.

Most Painful Moment: Probably NCAAs in college, my senior year. We (Cal) were no. 3 in the country. Pretty good chance to win NCAA Championship. And I had a wrist surgery that year. We lost in the quarterfinal to Stanford indoors. That was pretty painful for me. Because I took the team from 75 in the country to no, 3 by my senior year. So it was pretty cool. Kind of a rough ending.

Closest Tennis Friends: Jan-Michael Gambill was a very close friend of mine. He’s not playing so much anymore. Jesse Levine. A lot of the US guys.

Funniest Players Encountered: I love watching Tsonga play. I love Monfils. He’s very animated. Fun guy. Grigor Dimitrov – super nice guy. I’m actually quite close with him. He’s like a little kid in a big man’s body. He reminds me a lot of Guga. Guga used to be very fun, energetic, very kid like. I just wish there was more of that in tennis, where some people are a little more animated, a little more different. I could see it in their eyes when they talk, they love the game. They express this, they enjoy it. For me, that’s what I look for. That’s what I try to do, is kinda help people see the game through me, the way I play. And feel the match, feel the emotions, all that stuff.

Best You Ever Felt On Court: Probably when I beat Sjeng Schalken in Canada. Night match, sellout crowd in Granby Challenger. And I beat him 7-5 in the third set. I played a WTT match Sunday night in Hartford, drove all night, got in like 4 am, woke up, played a night match. Played unreal, so.

Favorite Tournament: Aussie Ope. And it also helps to do well. I lost the last round of qualies in Aussie Open to Janko Tipsarevic. I remember that it was actually a pretty fun run. Love the city, love how Melbourne is like right in the middle of everything. Very cool environment.

Strangest Match: Hmmm…Been quite a few. Probably in Brazil in altitude. Del Potro made semis that year. And I made it to the finals. I remember I was down match point and the guy had a sitter ball and he just absolutely crushed the ball at me and I hit a reflex volley. Stayed in the match, came back and won the match in the third set and ended up winning the whole tournament (defeated Kristian Pless). It’s pretty strange how this worked out that way, when you’re down and out of it, you have a second life in the tournament and it just builds you. You exude that confidence, Yeah, I got nothing to lose now. And just kinda let it rip. And it’s awesome.

People Qualities Most Admired: I’m very into people that have big hearts. Truthful. That are loyal. At the end of the day, that’s what I love. I have friends in all walks of life. For me it doesn’t really matter what you do or where you’re from or what you’ve done, it’s really about – do you have a big heart? Do you care? They’re a two way street. There for each other whether it’s good or bad. That’s probably just my Latin roots, my parents are from Argentina. It’s always been about family and friends. You try to be there when things hit the fan and are not going well. That’s kind of when I want to be there for my friends. I feel that’s when they need me the most.

Read about John Paul’s account of his two WTT matches vs Pete Sampras in Facing Sampras, $9.99 at amazon books!

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  • Andrew Miller · November 23, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Fruttero was very good. Enormous serve. Good overall game. A guy that would have benefitted from a strong coach.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 23, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Anybody who beats Pistol Pete Sanpras twice within the span of two weeks in official competitive matches, is a great player even if he never wins another match. Say what you want about WTT but I have seen it get ultra competitive, confrontations breaking out and even WTT has restored confidence and revived flagging or dead careers (Ryan Harrison).

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 23, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Takes a lot of guts to go back out on the pro tour at 36-37 with no ranking or points and rebuild a career. Fruttero has had a very unique journey and this Biofile stands out to me as one of the best ones.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 23, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, its one of your best. I had my first professional job in Montebello, Ca. writing for a daily newspaper, the Montebello News. Many immigrants from Mexico and Central America. I remember that movie about the math teacher, James Olmo, “Stand and Deliver;” the real high school of the teacher was in East LA in that neighborhood.

  • Jon King · November 24, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Excellent read Scoop, very well done. He sounds like a good guy with some depth to him.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Jon, Can’t always judge a player by his ranking, the interview reflects more.

  • Jeff · November 24, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Never heard of this guy and he beat Sampras twice? Were those like mini-tiebreakers or actual best of 3 matches?

    Strange how he described Dimitrov. Is Frutero still on the pro tour at his age? That seems incredible. Did he beat Del Potro in Brazil? I didn’t understand that part.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Jeff, Fruttero beat Pete 54 and 50 in WTT. Delpotro was in the same draw but lost in other semi. Dimitrov is a super nice guy. I did this Biofile with JPF about five years ago in Newport. JPF is ranked 221 in doubles right now, not bad after not playing pro for a couple of years.

  • John Paul Fruttero · November 24, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Jeff, I did beat Pete Sampras in his official comeback from the last US Open he made it to the finals. This was just before he played the singles exhibition matches with Federer and he won a couple of those. The first one was a sellout crowd in Manhattan Beach where Billie Jean King was in attendance. It was the 5th event and my team was up by 1 total game and I was playing Pete Sampras to decide to team match. We played a shortened set to 5 games(no add). I ended up hitting a 2nd serve ace in the tiebreaker to beat Sampras and win the match for my team(St. Louis Aces).
    Del Potro made it to the semifinals of the tournament in Brazil on the other side of the draw losing to Kristian Pless who I ended up beating in the final.
    I still am on the pro tour at 38 years old. Trying to defy age on the tour!
    You can follow my tennis journey @jpfrutterotennis on Instagram…

  • Jeff · November 25, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Wow thanks for the response, John. I venture to say perhaps more impressive than beating Sampras is to still be on the pro tour now. Granted I know players like Paes and Karlovic do it but it’s still quite a feat.

    Makes sense on the Del Potro part, thanks for clearing up.

    Interesting that you brought up Tipsarevic. The Serbs were in tears this week with his career ending, dunno if you saw.

    Also I am curious as to how you got to know Dimitrov so well. Seems like you two are in different generations and obviously from different countries. I too feel like he is like a little kid in some ways – not in a bad way. Seems like a really nice guy and I was happy when he won the Tour finals.

  • mike durrigan · November 29, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    I have known JP on for about 6 years helping JP his brother, John, with their clinic in San Jose, Ca. When I played many years ago I was decent enough to try and play at that time what was called the satellites now merged into what they call the futures. Made lot’s of friends but many of the Challenger and circuit players were often stand offish. That is what is so remarkable about JP, absolutely not stand offish type of player. One of the beautiful things is to watch JP give lessons or take a lesson from him. There is nothing but professionalism and enthusiasm and encouragement. Add a new nickname “Blue Lightening”. A couple years back JP was playing the Seascape Challenger, of which he has been a finalist in doubles twice. He wore a pair of blue sneaks with lightening rods on the side of his shoes and the name is forever attached to him, sorry JP hahahaha! JP and his brother John do this game great service in the way they are dedicated to and have love for the game and work with youngsters and pros alike. I have seen JP play tournaments, and in workout practices and believe me, he is one hell of an athlete and one hell of a player. JP, glad to have met you and John – top flight pros, both!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 29, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for the personal insights Mike, always nice to learn the unique aspects and eccentricities of the best tennis players in the world. Pro tennis needs more John Paul Frutteros.



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