By Benjamin Snyder
It isn’t every day you get to see an ATP pro hitting volleys with a frying pan. But that’s only part of what fans enjoyed on Sunday morning during the Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine High School Day.
In front of a Court 9 brimming with action, the 19-year old Jack Sock, who cemented a perfect 80-0 high school record, joined participants for an exhibition filled with drills and games to play. When the USTA representative organizing the event decided that the volleying drill was going a little too smoothly for the American Sock, he handed over what he joked as being the latest in tennis technology, a frying pan.
His plans to foil the American’s success, however, proved futile. With kitchen implement in hand, Sock proved almost as competent with the frying pan as the more orthodox tool used by tennis professionals worldwide. Meanwhile, his opponents across the net played with rackets provided by Head.
Although only a few years older than most of the High School Day participants, Sock’s tennis career has already come with high distinction. Last year, he collected his first major title, winning the US Open mixed doubles tournament with fellow American Melanie Oudin, who fell in the first round of Cincinnati qualifying on Saturday. In the men’s draw at the US Open that same year, Sock advanced to the second round. In 2010, he claimed the US Open Junior title by taking out compatriot Denis Kudla in three sets.
At Cincinnati this year, however, Olivier Rochus of Belgium cut Sock’s run short in the first round of qualifying. He lost in straight sets to the 5’5" two-time ATP titlist.
But despite yesterday’s loss, Sock was all smiles today as he rallied with fans while music serenaded the High School Day players on a sunny day at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. At one point, the Nebraskan even took a few seconds to rest on-court in jest as the players across the net purposefully avoided hitting to the World No. 250 in favor of the USTA representative, who was playing alongside him.
Upon entering Court 9, fans received Frisbees and hats supplied by Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine. Participants also got the chance to play a game in which they were expected to loft balls into buckets placed on the heads of the various high school coaches in attendance.
Later in the day, the high school students were given the opportunity to attend information sessions and ask questions of Wellington Sports doctors and trainers to learn about fitness, staying healthy, and avoiding injury. Fans also received a sports bag and key chain from Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine and the chance to watch some of the world’s top tennis players battle on-court for spots into the Western & Southern Open’s main draw.