Jack Sock brought his homework to the U.S. Open.
The 17-year-old from Overland Park, Kan., wants to keep up with his academics as he enters his senior year at Blue Valley North High School, as he makes his way through the junior competition at the U.S. Open, as he figures out whether he wants to be an elite tennis player. Throughout this journey he wants to stay a normal kid.
Sock won the U.S. 18 Nationals in August, earning a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open. He lost in the opening round to Marco Chiudinelli, but he perseveres in the juniors and won his second-round match Wednesday against Peter Heller of Germany 6-1, 6-3.
A two-time Kansas state high school champion, Sock hasn't traveled the world as a junior to pursue his professional career as so many young elite players do. He may very well turn pro, and he's benefiting from USTA financial support, supplementary coaching and training. He has spent winter months at the USTA development complex in Boca Raton, Fla. He has been given the experience of a Davis Cup trip. He has hit with Andy Roddick.
Still, Sock is content to stay in high school, play high school tennis, and stay around his friends. There will come a time soon that he will have to make the decision, the decision that many elite teenagers make by the time they are 16: rurn pro and shoot for the top, or go to college.
"I don't want to rush into something that would be a life-changing decision," Sock said. "I love being on team tennis, helping people on a team. That's why I've played high school tennis."
"He's really careful and he's been conditioned to go slow rather than move too fast," said his coach, Mike Wolf. "In the big picture he wants to do this, to become a pro player, but he also wants to lead a normal life as much as he can. He doesn't want this to be a stressful thing."
With the potential of the world at his doorstep, Sock will make sure he gets through high school this academic year, will make his college visits, and will also play some futures and challenger events. The totality of the experience, and his success playing against pros, will help him make his decision.
"I'm pretty undecisive right now about what I want to do," Sock said. "I won't make an impulsive decision on college or turning pro."
Jay Berger, a coach with the USTA elite player development program, thinks Sock has potential.
"He's a great prospect," Berger said. "He has to make sure he's committed to being the best he can be. He's getting a normal high school education. He's a normal kid."