OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Blue Valley North High School's top tennis product is rising to new heights.
As Monday morning opened in Paris, France, Overland Park’s Jack Sock was the lone American men's player still standing in the French Open. Sock, 22, advanced to the round of 16 at this second of the big four Grand Slam tournaments.
The trouble for Sock -- nine-time French Open Champion Rafael Nadal stood in his way. Nadal, 28, won over Sock 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Sock lost the first two sets of Monday's match at Roland Garros before battling back to win the third set.
Tennis fanatics in the metro spent Monday morning on the edges of their seats watching the competition unfold.
At summer tennis academies such as Overland Park Racquet Club, the next generation of tennis stars spent the day talking about Sock's big day in Paris. Televisions around the club were fixed on Sock and his meeting with Nadal, the French Open king.
13-year old Nathan Turtledove said he loves Sock so much that he and his family once traveled to South Florida to watch his idol play in the ATP's Miami Open.
“He's a really nice guy. He's a great guy overall,” Turtledove said. “I was watching the match today, and they were talking about his high school career. It's just amazing how hard it is to get up there and how hard he's worked to accomplish it.”
Sock trailed 5-3 in the third set against Nadal before battling back to extend the match. 17-year old Josephine Cao says it's that kind of determination that makes Sock a tennis role model.
“He's from here,” Cao said. “Everyone looks up to him. He started from the bottom.”
Barry King, the club's director of tennis, says young Americans should model their work ethic after Sock, who went 80-and-0 during his high school career at Blue Valley North.
“They've worked harder in practice,” King said. “For these guys to come out to practice and grind every day, that's what it's going to start taking.”
The most recent set of world tennis rankings also added that Sock is moving up. The ATP Rankings say Sock is the 37th best men's player in the world, which ranks him second among American players.
Sock's next big stop will be Wimbledon later this summer. It was less than a year ago that he and his doubles partner won the men's doubles title at All-England.