Recent West Jessamine graduate Zach Meikle has truly cut his own path. About five years ago, Meikle was the run-of-the-mill soccer player in the county, but a friendly game of tennis between Meikle and his mother ignited something in him. Since then, Meikle has been a dominant tennis force in the county and state.
“Between my seventh- and eighth-grade year, I wasn’t doing well in soccer, so I played tennis with my mom once and I had a lot of fun with that, so then I took a tennis lesson, played for a few months and then came out practiced with the high school team my eighth-grade year,” Meikle said. “I beat a couple seniors, so I decided to play.”
Meikle’s first year with the high-school Colts was also coach Josh Yost’s first season. Meikle’s father contacted Yost, and the first-year coach told him that if Zach was good enough to play, he would play.
“That was big to him (Zach) that if he was good enough he could play in the eighth grade,” Yost said.
Since then, Meikle has not dropped out of the top two for West.
After playing singles as an eighth-grader, Meikle and teammate/practice rival Scott Layton teamed up for doubles. The brainchild of coach Yost began a run the county hadn’t seen before.
In Meikle’s freshman year (Layton’s sophomore year), the doubles team made it to the state tournament.
They were ultimately bounced in the first round by a more experienced Trinity squad — but the pair would make two more state appearances together.
“That just started it all, it seems — getting to state that one year. That was a big hump because then we just got all the motivation we needed from then on out,” Meikle said.
The transition from singles to doubles wasn’t always easy for Meikle. But winning helped drive the pair and made practicing easier and more enjoyable.
Meikle’s sophomore year brought more success for the pair.
After another strong region performance, the tandem drew a No. 9 seed in the state tournament. They dispatched their first two opponents, losing only two games, and advanced to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, they again ran into a doubles team from Trinity.
After winning the first set 7-6, Meikle and Layton dropped the final two sets 6-4, 6-4.
As Meikle’s high-school career progressed, so did his style of play. When he first joined the Colts, he was running down every ball and returned every ball he could get a racket on. He then started to play smarter, moving opposing players around and began controlling the game more.
Heading into his junior year, Meikle’s serve improved as well, which was a big help in his doubles matches.
Layton, then a senior, and Meikle made one last run together at the state tournament.
After placing second in the region, they drew an eight seed and battled their way to the quarterfinals for the second straight year. However, a Trinity squad stood in their way yet again.
“We lost in the quarterfinals; we both played really poorly, and that was our last match together,” Meikle said. “I took some time off after that because I got real upset with myself.”
In their final match together, they fell 6-2, 6-4 to the Shamrocks.
“I took the whole summer off after that because I was really distraught,” Meikle said. “I just decided that I’d go for it one last season, so I started playing again in the winter.”