Justin Friesen was counting on his thundering first serve in Round 1 action of an International Tennis Federation World Tennis Tour Junior Circuit matchup on Monday at the Kamloops Tennis Centre.
The weapon misfired too often and the 16-year-old South Kamloops secondary student fell in straight sets (6-4, 6-2) to Farzan Amiri of San Francisco.
“I was struggling, for sure,” Friesen told KTW after the match, played in front of about 50 spectators at 758 Front St.
“I couldn’t find a rhythm out there.”
Amiri, 16, broke the Kamloopsian’s serve four times in the first set and held a 5-2 lead, but Friesen fought back to make it close.
He won the next two games, showing off serve-and-volley prowess that made him confident heading into the match, but Amiri held serve to close out the first set of the best-of-three match.
“In the first set, I was very nervous and making lots of errors,” Amiri said. “I was able to finish it off and got more relaxed and was playing a lot better.”
Both competitors, each standing about 6-foot-2, went to the clubhouse to regroup between sets.
Friesen seemed poised to build on the late first-set surge, but was unable to hold serve in Game 1, tripped up by unforced errors. Amiri used his fierce serve and a wicked forehand to snare a 2-0 cushion.
“It was hard to break his serve, especially in the second set,” Amiri said. “After I broke him and went up 2-0, I felt, OK, just hold my serve and it doesn’t even matter on the return.”
Amiri held serve the rest of the way and broke Friesen to take a 5-2 stranglehold on the set and match.
“It would have been nice to play a lot better, but I put everything out the on the court,” said Friesen, who was playing in his first ITF event against an opponent once heralded among California's top juniors.
“It is what it is.”
Friesen’s younger brother, 14-year-old Thomas, lost an extended tiebreaker to fall 2-1 to Harshvardan Chopra of the U.S. in a qualifying-round match on Sunday.
Paige Grice is the remaining Kamloops product in singles contention.
The 16-year-old NorKam secondary student will square off against Naomi Schraeder of Kelowna in Round 1 play on Tuesday. Match time will be released on Monday afternoon at itftennis.com.