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Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Jefferson's Zach Bost

POSTED: June 2, 2012 8:57 p.m.

Jefferson’s Zach Bost left quite a lasting first impression against any of his opponents on the high school tennis court when he chose to do so this season. With a toss of the ball into the air and a powerful follow through with his right arm, Bost could deliver a serve that could register 125 mph on the radar gun.

Even though he often stayed away from muscling up on his power serve, in order to keep the ball in play and work on other portions of his game, it was always right there in his bag of tricks.

“My serve has always been one of my biggest weapons,” said Bost, an Appalachian State University signee.
Bost completed his senior season nearly perfect, losing only one match all year and twice in his career. For his efforts, Bost is The Times’ Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

Bost’s 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame can account for some of the velocity he can put on the tennis ball. Long arms and legs give him plenty of time to wind up and explode on the ball on impact.

Bost’s only loss as a senior was against North Oconee’s No. 1 singles player early in the season, just days after Bost had his wisdom teeth removed. Bost won the rematch when they met in the Region 8-AA tournament at the end of the regular season.

Three years earlier was his first high school loss when, as a freshman, Bost lost to Athens Academy’s Scott Foster.

“Zach’s an athlete that only comes around only once or twice in a coaches career,” Jefferson coach Mike Paul said. “I’m real proud of everything Zach’s been able to accomplish.”

However, the bulk of his ability comes down to the amount of time he spends working on the game, most of those hours with his private instructor Murphy Payne at the St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek.

Each afternoon during the school year, Bost makes the drive toward Atlanta for a few hours of instruction from Payne. Now that school is out, training takes up about seven hours every day, and includes plenty of matches and tournaments.

Payne says that much of Bost’s ability with his serve comes not just from speed, but also from the way he shapes his shot so carefully. He equates changing up serve selection as to how a pitcher tries to get ahead of the hitter from the mound.

Payne says that Bost has the ability to hit 130 mph comfortably on his power serve. For the sake of comparison, that speed’s in the same range as six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.

“Zach’s a very talented tennis player,” Payne said. “As talented as they come.

“And covers the court very well.”

Bost credits Payne for all of his development. He says that having Payne as a private coach for more than a year now has not only sharpened his physical abilities and learned the total picture of becoming a great tennis player, but also helped with the mental side of the game.

“His coaching has been tremendous and is the reason I am the player I am now,” Bost said. “I dedicate my success to him.”

And even though Bost was the best player for the Dragons, Paul didn’t see it as a conflict of interest having him train away from the team.

“I tell our athletes, if they want to seek private lessons, that’s okay,” Paul said. “Just as long as they are out there hitting.”

One goal Payne has for Bost is to improve his work ethic. He says every day in practice is an exercise in “lighting a fire” under Bost to bring out the intensity he wants to see to match his physical ability.

“At the next level, if he improves his work ethic, I feel like he could play professionally eventually,” Payne said.

In college, Bost is leaving his options open to the coaches discretion as to whether he will play singles or doubles.

Appalachian State was eliminated in the second round of the Southern Conference tournament this season in Charleston, S.C.


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