The last match point at ASU


Senior Jan-Willem Kleynhans. Photo courtesy of DC Mayo/App State Athletics.

Monica Crawford

Seniors Zach Bost, Oliver Casey, Jan-Willem Kleynhans and Steve Lake have spent their careers on App State men’s tennis team rebuilding the team from the top down, according to head coach Bob Lake.

Bost, Casey, Kleynhans and Steve Lake stepped onto the court in 2012 as freshmen the season after men’s tennis at App State had one of its best seasons in recent history. The current seniors had to fill the spots of the top four players who had just graduated the season before, which, according to Kleynhans, was a big challenge for the team.

“They left some big shoes to fill, and my freshman year we were struggling a bit to find our feet,” Kleynhans said. “But my sophomore year we kind of built on that and had a better season, and since then it’s only been going up.”

Despite the challenges that came with losing the top four spots on the team, Bost, Casey, Kleynhans and Steve Lake stepped up to fill in those spots over the four years that they have been here and finished each season with a progressively better team record. With only one match left in the season before the Sun Belt Conference Championships, the team currently has a record of 12-6. This is the best record that the team has had since 2012, when the Mountaineers finished 15-7.

All four seniors have played in the top spots for the team over their career at App, and they have also done well in school with a team GPA of 3.08 last semester, coach Lake said.

“They’re great guys,” coach Lake said. “They do well in school. They play hard, and I’ve never had any issues with any of them, so it’s been a good senior class.”

Senior Zach Bost. Photo courtesy of DC Mayo/App State Athletics.
Senior Zach Bost. Photo courtesy of DC Mayo/App State Athletics.

Bost came to App from Jefferson, Georgia, and started his freshman year playing in the No. 3 spot. He was selected to first team all-conference in doubles both his freshman and sophomore years and has a 38-42 career record in singles and a 35-37 career record in doubles. Bost said that his favorite thing about playing for App State has been the relationship that he has built with his teammates and the four other seniors over the past four years.

Casey came to play tennis for the Mountaineers all the way from Melbourne, Australia and said that his experience playing for a college tennis team in the United States has been unforgettable. Casey has earned multiple conference awards in his time as a Mountaineer. He earned SoCon all-freshman honors for singles and second team all-SoCon for doubles in 2014, second team all-Sun Belt for doubles and second team all-Sun Belt for doubles in 2015. He has a 36-24 career record in singles and a 32-21 career record in doubles. Casey has played in anywhere from the No. 1 to the No. 3 spot for the team.

“College tennis back home is made out to be a really incredible experience, and it has been,” Casey said. “It’s really fulfilled what everyone has said.”

Kleynhans also came from across the water to play for the Mountaineers and calls Stellensbosch, South Africa home. Kleynhans started off playing in the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots his freshman year and has moved up seeds throughout his career. He has a 30-34 career record in singles and a 29-31 career record in doubles.

“My time here has been really good,” Kleynhans said. “Every trip and everywhere we go is an adventure, so there’s not particularly a bunch of stories. It’s just been one big amazing story.”

Steve Lake is from Boone and is the son of Bob Lake. Steve Lake is Bob Lake’s second son to play tennis under him at Appalachian State. Steve Lake has played mostly doubles for the Mountaineers and has a 2-2 career record in singles and a 19-24 career record in doubles.

The seniors have one last match left in their final season before heading to the Sun Belt Conference Championships. The team is set to play Georgia Southern on April 16 in Statesboro, Georgia, and will play in the Sun Belt Conference Championships on April 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana.