It takes a lot to be number one. That’s what has been engrained into every athlete from a young age. It takes a lot more, however, to be number one in the sport of tennis. Not only do you have to be the best player on the court, but in order to be the number one of your team, you have to be the absolute best player on the roster. From there, that is when you make your journey to become the number one tennis player overall, from beating every other team’s number one player. That is the role of Connor Thompson on the UNCG Men’s Tennis Team.
An Atlanta native, Thompson was considered number one on any given court and as a seventh grader, he was ranked second in the nation for his age group. In high school, he was ranked first in all four years at Holy Innocents’, going a perfect 16-0 in his senior year and posting a 62-1 record in his career. After spending his freshman campaign floating between the second and sixth ranks, Connor returned to his familiar number one position in his sophomore year. In that season, he went 14-8 in singles along with winning Socon Player of the Week, and making the Socon Honor Roll. Now in his third year, Thompson wants to increase his leadership role to the team.
When asked about the state of his team, Thompson had this to say, “The team started off strong, but fell into a mid season lull in which we struggled in singles competition. It hurts in that regard because we were right in it in every singles match but just didn’t produce the results that we wanted. If we were able to pull out a couple more wins in singles competition, that would really help out our season. As a team, we have grown a lot closer to each other and things are starting to look up. We just got a big win against Davidson on Thursday and we bonded because of that. It should definitely give us a boost for our match against Wofford on Saturday.”
As for the progression of himself as a player, Connor says “When I came in, I was decent at playing tennis but I couldn’t figure out how to win every match. So my biggest improvement was with being consistent and not allowing my opponent to crawl back into matches.”
As much as Thompson has improved, he still feels as if he has room to grow. “Even with all of my improvements, I still give out free points. I would play three or four really good points and just lose one or two right back. Working on my mental lapses would be key for developing even more. Also, trying to remain a little calm out on the court helps too. For anyone who has watched me, I can have a little bit of a temper, so if I can keep that under control, that would help.”
Connor says he life of being number one this year is, “Tough. Every match. Every opponent you play at number one, no matter how small the school, is tough. It’s been more mental for me this year, focusing on my strengths while exploiting their weaknesses. The pressure has been on me a lot this season since we are struggling in singles currently, so it’s really imperative for me to take no days off. A highlight of this season and possibly my career would be defeating ETSU’s David Biasca in three sets. He is currently 51st in the national rankings, and he beat me quite handedly last year so to beat him the very next time I saw him was big for me.”
Concluding, Thompson wants to not only expand upon his leadership role, but to make his legacy looking forward to his last season as number one. “I’ll try to be more active with the guys, honestly. I’ve been leading moreso by example these last couple of years by working hard and doing the right things, but I want to take on a more vocal role next year and have the team be more focused.”