The Star Late Edition
School or tennis? Pupil strikes right balance
WHETHER it’s at his writing desk at home or travelling the world to play tennis for SA, for Jared Thompson it’s always been important to step out of his comfort zone.
The talented tennis player remembers fondly the first time his dad took him to play tennis at the public courts in Bosmont, west of Joburg.
“I liked it, started playing it a lot, and never looked back.”
It was in Grade 7 that he began training with a former Davis Cup coach and his talent blossomed.
Tennis had always been a way of relieving tension, an escape from any other stress, but all that “relaxation” has paid off.
Now just 18 years old, the matriculant has been selected for the SA national team, with his tenure in the SA Schools Tennis team allowing him to travel to the Czech Republic and the UK to play for his country.
Thompson obtained three distinctions.
The young man has considered the possibility of turning professional, so visiting Wimbledon in London was a highlight of his recent travels.
His sporting skills have earned him a scholarship to the University of Alabama in the US, where he plans to study English literature this year.
But while he’ll be playing tennis for the institution, it’s another one of his passions that will take up the majority of his time: writing.
His parents always encouraged “reading time” for him and his brother, but it was a teacher at Sacred Heart College who instilled in him a love of literature.
Thompson said he would love to join their ranks as an author, poet or playwright.
The balance between academics and sport has been a key issue for Thompson.
He decided to skip the SA Schools tennis team’s annual overseas trip this year so he could study for his matric exams.
By keeping a steady study and practice schedule, he even found time to sing in his church choir.
“But all that doesn’t mean I don’t have a social life,” he adds.
As he prepares to fly to the US, one thing does worry Thompson – culture shock.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with me identifying myself as ‘coloured’. For them, it’s a dirty word,” he says. “I really don’t want to pick up the accent either.”
But for the young tennis prodigy, it’ll be yet another way to step out of his comfort zone.