For those who haven’t been paying attention, U.S. men’s tennis isn’t doing so hot right now.
The top American in the ATP World Tour rankings is Sam Querrey at No. 20, followed by John Isner at 22. After that there are no other U.S players ranked until Mardy Fish at No. 63. It isn’t until you get to the edge of the top 100 that you find Jack Sock at No. 95.
But the 20-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., is among the most promising of a group of young Americans trying to make their way up the rankings. Sock received a wild card into the main draw at this week’s Citi Open at Rock Creek Park and will open play against Igor Sisling.
He’s looking for a consistent run in a summer that has seen him survive three rounds of qualifying to make it into the French Open main draw before falling to veteran Tommy Haas in the second round, then follow it up by losing in the opening round of Wimbledon qualifying.
But Sock has a well-rounded game, which should serve him well in his career.
“I have a couple of big weapons — serving, forehand, my speed” said Sock, “Usually when guys have big weapons like that they maybe don’t have some of the other assets that I feel I could have. My intangibles and mindset for the game contribute to my overall game and I hope I can show that this week.”
Sock is trying to follow in the footsteps of another Nebraska native, Andy Roddick, whom he grew up idolizing. The two actually played each other in the second round of the 2011 U.S. Open.
“That was a pretty surreal moment for me,” Sock said, “playing a guy I used to watch growing up all the time.”
Unfortunately for Sock, he lost to Roddick 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Luckily for him, however, that was not the end of his experience at the Open. His most notable achievement to date is a mixed doubles title with Melanie Oudin that same week at the Open.
“That was pretty unexpected.” said Sock. “We ended up winning the tournament and it was another surreal experience for me. Definitely one of the best moments of my career and hopefully not the last.”
Sock is not relying on dreams to simply come true, however, and understands that winning takes time and practice.
“I just have to put in the work now,” he said. “It’s a process.”
For D.C. fans looking for a reason to root for Sock, turns out he’s a Redskins fan.
“I’m a huge RG3 fan,” said Sock, “I have a good friend from Nebraska, Roy Helu, who’s now on the Redskins and both of those factors have made me a pretty big Redskins fan. I’m going to go around and get some Redskins apparel while I’m in town.”
Business comes first, of course, as the hardcourt season really kicks in. With his eye on the ball and focused on the now, Sock looks to be the kind of young player with the work ethic and talent to help put American tennis back on the world stage.