It's been quite a couple of weeks at the U.S. Open for 17-year-old high school senior Jack Sock.
He got a chance to practice with stars such as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. Ah, yes, and don't forget this: Sock won the U.S. Open boys' title Sunday, beating Denis Kudla 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the first all-American junior final at Flushing Meadows in a decade.
Top-seeded Daria Gavrilova beat Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2 in an all-Russian girls' final.
Sock is the first U.S. Open junior champion representing the United States since Andy Roddick in 2000. Roddick beat Robby Ginepri in that all-U.S. final, then went on to win the men's title in 2003.
Sock, though, doesn't feel outside pressure to be the Next Big Thing in U.S. tennis.
"No, I think us, as in 'juniors' — we're just doing what we can. We're practicing hard and we're working hard and doing what we can to improve," Sock said. "Hopefully we can get to that level one day and be in the American tennis spotlight. Hopefully."
Sock grew up in Lincoln, Neb., and went to go work with coach Mike Wolf at a tennis academy in Kansas about six years ago. Now Sock is trying to figure out whether to go to college — he's considering a list of about 10 or 12 — or turn professional.
"I'm indecisive right now, pretty much. I'm going to finish out 2010, probably, and see where my game is and my ranking, and take some visits this fall," Sock said. "My ultimate goal, obviously, in tennis is to be a professional tennis player and hopefully make a living, so I'll just decide which path is the best for me to get there. If it's college, then it's college; if it's pros right away, then it will be pros."
Sock played with a wild card in the men's tournament, losing in the first round to Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland. Sock won the boys' 18s national championship last month.
He went to Djokovic's U.S. Open base in New Jersey a few times to hit on a private court with the man who will face Rafael Nadal in the tournament final. Sock also practiced with Federer in New York, and in Miami once, as well.
"Those guys are on a different level — on a lot of different levels," Wolf said. But, Wolf noted, Sock "at least has a sense of belonging."