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Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Jefferson's Zach Bost
The Times All-Area Tennis Players of the Year are Zach Bost and Bell Blankenship, both of Jefferson High School. - photo by Tom Reed

Girls Player of the Year: Jefferson's Bell Blankenship

Tennis All Area Team 

Tennis is one big numbers game for Zach Bost.

Playing as a singles star from Jefferson High, the rising junior works feverishly on the court to get the highest junior ranking possible: that’s the number college coaches use to target players worthy of a scholarship.

To get that ranking, Bost is constantly taking on other top competitors in summer tournaments on the USTA to get his ranking as close to the top as possible.

“I’m playing tennis all year long,” Bost said.

Of course, Bost, ranked No. 35 in the Southeast among 16-and-under juniors, knows that the competition will start getting tougher against the region and nation’s best. This season, Bost was undefeated for the Dragons with a 14-0 record at No. 1 singles, leading Jefferson to the Class AA state quarterfinals.

For his efforts, Bost is The Times 2010 Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

Not to say that he didn’t play any good competition during the high school season, but Bost doesn’t want to confuse his success during the high school season with automatic success on the junior tour slate. He knows there’s an every-man-for-himself mentality among the best tourney players.

They all clamor to get into the elite tournaments, such as the Super Nationals in Kalamazoo, Mich, which Bost hopes to receive an invitation to later this summer.

To get there, Bost believes he’ll need to be listed in the Top 23 in the southeast.

“There’s really heavy competition,” Bost said. “It’s a lot of the top kids in all of the southeast.”

Even if he doesn’t get the call to go to the Super Nationals, Bost still has a full plate with 12 tournaments on the calendar stretching from Arkansas, to Alabama and the Carolinas. He even took off for three tournaments before the school year was complete.

While Bost is well aware that you have to venture out on your own to find the top junior talent, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any good talent to go up against among the high school ranks.

In the Class AA state quarterfinals, Bost was pitted against Westminster junior Eugene Oh, who is ranked No. 17 among southern juniors and fourth in the state. The match was as close as the high rankings for both players would indicate. Bost was leading the first set 5-0, before he lost 7-5. Then in the second set, Bost was leading 2-1 before the match was called with the Wildcats’ victory.
“When I was winning (in the first set), I started to make some unforced errors and he really picked up his game,” Bost said.

Bost appreciated the learning experience that playing a singles standout like Oh provided.

He knows the only way to be the best is to face off against the cream of the crop.

After losing the first set, Jefferson coach Jim Bryan, also a fine arts instructor at the school, stepped to the court with a message for the 6-foot-2 Bost: treat the match like an art project. Bryan says that art and tennis share that common theme of focusing on the task at hand and blocking out any distractions.

He says that Bost is starting to master those skills, along with others it takes to be a standout tennis player.

“Zach is a very good hitter, and I’ve never seen him regress,” Bryan said. “He’s not as impatient as he once was, and waits for his opportunity to strike.”

Bost first stepped on the court playing tennis in an attempt to be like his father, Zeb. He first held a tennis racket at the age of 2, and went out and starting getting serious about playing when he was 7.

Now he’s looking to secure his future for playing at the next level.

“I just love playing tennis,” Bost said.

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