Overland Park's Jack Sock is defending his first singles tennis title at the ATP’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship underway in Houston. Sock, 23, is currently ranked No. 25 in the world and is the second-best American singles-player behind John Isner.
Sock’s been on a roll lately. He won the 2014 Wimbledon doubles championship with Canada’s Vasek Pospisil. In international competition, Sock was a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team that defeated Australia in early March to advance to the quarterfinals. He’s also positioned to represent the U.S. team bound for Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Sock says he’s geared up for a big year in tennis with the clay season, his favorite surface, now underway. KCUR 89.3 caught up with Sock in Houston.
On defending his first singles title:
“It feels good. I love this tournament, even before last year. Obviously, last year made it that much better. It’ll always be a special place for me for sure. My first title, which was a big goal for me last year. I was able to accomplish it here in the states at a home tournament, which was nice.”
On his doubles plans this year:
“Vasek (Pospisil) and I will play wherever we meet up and when we know we play in the same tournaments. The last two years we finished ninth in the race and missed (ATP’s World Tour Finals in) London by one spot. The last two years toward the middle and end of the year, when we knew we were in the race, we went for it. I think this year it’ll be a little more relaxed. If we’re in contention again, great. If not, I don’t think it’ll be as devastating as the last two years.”
On the probability of playing in the Olympics:
“I grew up watching the Olympics. I take a lot of pride in representing the U.S. how I can. It’s been in Davis Cup as of late. I really embrace the team atmosphere and representing your country. I play in an individual sport, so anytime you can get on a team or have a team-like atmosphere it’s a lot of fun for me. Hopefully I can keep playing some good tennis and keep my ranking (No. 25) where it is and be nominated. That would definitely be a moment I’ll never forget.”
On playing for the U.S. in Davis Cup competition and beating Australia:
“Honestly, this one in Melbourne was one of the best weeks of the year for all the guys. We still talk about it two months later. We’re joking about how much fun it was. The team atmosphere, the camaraderie. We call it the fellowship on the team from playing cards to the practices and to the tea dinner. Overall it was a great week and I think it showed up on the court.”
On the clay season leading into the French Open:
“It starts here (in Houston), one of my favorite weeks of the year, then a few weeks off. (Followed by) the same type of Euro swing—Madrid, Rome. I won’t play in Nice (France) this year. I’ve been to Melbourne twice, so I’m on my sixth week (traveling) right now, it’ll be nice to get a few weeks off after this, then regroup and recharge to go through my favorite surface, then finish it off with Paris.”
Greg Echlin is a sports reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter, @GregEchlin.