Other Varsity Sports

Net virtuosity: Jack Sock has impressive tennis resume

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Sock's record and the number of four-time champions

There was nary a pause when Blue Valley North senior Jack Sock was asked to list his career tennis highlights.

"No. 1 would be winning the (2010) junior U.S. Open," Sock said. "Two would be playing in the (2010) U.S. Open men's first-round main draw."

Not a bad top two, huh? But there's more.

He rounded out his top five with being a Davis Cup practice partner in Serbia, winning the Kalamazoo, Mich., tournament to earn the wild card into the U.S. Open and winning four national tournaments in one year when he was playing in the 12-year-old division.

Sock will be playing in the Class 6A tournament today and Saturday in Topeka. His main goal will be to help BV North, which is in Overland Park, win its third straight team title.

Sock also will try to win his fourth Class 6A singles title. He is 76-0 in high school and has lost one set, to his brother, Eric, now a sophomore playing at Nebraska.

Sock, who has played a practice session with Roger Federer and hits with Andy Roddick, is ranked 28th in 18s by the U.S. Tennis Association.

He's debating whether to turn pro or accept scholarship offers from Nebraska, Texas or Virginia.

"I'm still indecisive," said Sock, who plans to make a decision in the next few months. "It's a life-changing decision. You can't go back on it. I'm definitely taking my time, making sure I know what I'm doing."

If he chooses college, he would start second semester, playing tennis tournaments through the fall.

Tennis has been a major focus of Sock's life since 2003. That's when Sock's parents, Larry and Pam, decided Jack, Eric and Pam would move from Lincoln, Neb., to Overland Park so the boys could be coached by Mike Wolf at his tennis academy. Larry Sock continues to work and live in Lincoln.

"It's certainly been different," Larry Sock said of living away from his family."... The time I've been able to spend with them, especially if we've been to tennis tournaments, it's been the best quality time I could have with them."

Jack's natural ability was obvious when he started tennis at age 8. He'd picked the sport innocently when he and his brother found some rackets at home.

"At that age, it's really hard to tell, but you can tell if there's natural ability," Larry Sock said. "But it's how they develop, their desire. That's a big part of it."

The love and desire for the game has always been there, and it has grown as Jack Sock's game consistently improved.

"I love competing," Sock said. "Once you get playing some of the lower level ATP tournaments and the U.S. Open and (the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami) and some of the high-level tournaments, it's addicting. You want to be always out working and getting better."

He was helped by a growth spurt — he is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds — and, according to Wolf, has no glaring weaknesses.

"The No. 1 thing he has is the feel for the court. He has a very good feel for what shot should be played, he has a good combination of offense and defense and he'll make you play the extra ball," Wolf said.

"He has a really big forehand, and the serve is good, but it needs to get better. And it will. He doesn't have anything you can really pick on."

Adding to an already impressive package is a strong mental focus.

His family and coaches have kept the emphasis on attitude and work ethic, with the idea that winning will come when those two aspects are in place.

"That has allowed him to be the natural competitor he is," Wolf said, "and not get a bunch of junk in his mind that doesn't matter."

Sock is ranked 575th in the world by the ATP, and he has played 10 pro futures tournaments, events for entry-level pros and top amateurs.

When Sock won the junior boys U.S. Open, he knew he would return to play his senior season for BV North.

While he might be a nationally elite athlete, Sock's school and teammates mean a lot to him and his whole focus this weekend is helping his team win that team title.

His role is winning his fourth singles title and become the fourth high school boy to win four. The others are Collegiate's Matt Wright (1993-96), Southeast's Rhain Buth (1987-90), Tariq Butt of Clay Center and Lawrence (1991-94).

"The team title is why I'm on the team, that's why I'm there," he said. "Anything that comes with it individually is really just a bonus. Obviously, yeah, I want to win singles, the four-peat would be nice.

"It's something not a lot of people have done. But winning a third team title in a row would be more special."

***

State tennis

Class 6A

Kossover Tennis Center, Topeka

Class 5A

McPherson High

Class 4A

Smoky Valley High

Class 3-2-1A

Hillsboro Sports Complex

* All sites begin today at 10:30 a.m.; Saturday's semifinals begin at 9 a.m.

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