A brotherhood continuing at boys tennis state for the Fridinger brothers
It started at a young age.
Caleb and Luke Fridinger would travel with their parents and grandparents to different locations around the country. During these vacations, the two boys' father, Steve Fridinger, would team up with their grandfather for father-son tournaments.
After the matches, Caleb and Luke would come onto the court and either play or run around for a few minutes. That opportunity allowed the two to not only play this sport of tennis, but to find a passion and love for this sport.
"Our grandfather and father played tennis and it was just an opportunity given to us," Caleb said. "We just loved the sport."
Tennis may have been a big part of their childhood lives, but they didn't actually start playing as individuals until they were eight or nine years old at USTA tournaments. Caleb and Luke weren't the only ones in the family that played tennis.
Their older brother, Evan Fridinger, has played this sport throughout his childhood and it's landed him into playing in college as well. That's the dream for Caleb and Luke, but the focus right now is the state doubles tournament on Thursday, June 7 at the Baseline Arena at the University of Minnesota.
The dream to play in college is a distant goal as Caleb is heading into his junior year and Luke into his freshman year next fall. Right now, the dream is to win a state championship with their East Ridge boys tennis team and as individuals as well.
This season, the East Ridge team will not be there after losing to Eastview in the section finals, but Caleb and Luke fought through many doubles pairings to earn a second place finish at sections resulting in a trip to state for the two brothers.
"It's a great honor to represent East Ridge and the community," Caleb said. "We appreciate their support because it's motivated us to work hard each day."
The three Fridinger brothers tried many different sports throughout their childhood with sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, but none of them clicked like tennis. They like the fact that it's an individual sport, but also a team sport.
"During the spring, they try to win their matches for the East Ridge team," said Beth Fridinger, Caleb and Luke's mother. "Once the offseason comes, they become more individual focused."
The two brothers have played singles matches the majority of the season, so playing together as doubles was new to them. They've played together before, but it was fun to conclude the season together and compete for a state championship.
The two of them may be young, but they already have a handful of memories to hold near and dear to their hearts.
Last season, the two of them, including their older brother, were on East Ridge's boys tennis team. That team made it to the state championship allowing the three brothers to experience a journey together as a family. This season, the two distinctively remember a match against Eastview earlier in the season.
"We were down 3-2 and [Caleb and I] won our two matches to win the match for our team," Luke said. "That was pretty fun to see each of our hard work pay off to earn a win for the team."
These two don't practice tennis just during the spring season. It's an all year schedule. Caleb and Luke practice at the Baseline Arena throughout the entire year and it's their primary focus and passion.
The fun part for the two of them is that they practice with many of their competitors during the spring season. They said it can be awkward sometimes, but in the end it's always fun seeing their friends whether they're competing against each other or not.
"One day you're practicing with a friend," Caleb said. "The next day, that friend is across the net competing against you."
Right now, it may be fun, but they hope it continues to stay fun in college and beyond. For the two of them, they hope that tennis will be a part of their lives for a long time in the future.
The tradition needs to continue into the future in the two brothers' eyes and that starts with the two of them.
"I hope one day I can teach my kids the game of tennis as a father," Luke said. "I want to carry the tradition just like my dad and my grandpa."