• 70°

Hard work pays dividends for Panthers’ Thompson

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was a grind at times, but Will Thompson has no regrets.

Thompson is a senior on the LaGrange College tennis team, and his final season was unfortunately cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thompson was LaGrange College’s number one singles player the past two seasons, and he was a key member of the lineup for four years.

“It’s not always sunshine and rainbows when you’re waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning to get to the gym for workouts, and then you’re going out there for practice when you’re exhausted,” Thompson said. “But I loved being out there. I loved all the guys, loved my teammates. They were like a second family. I loved being a part of something bigger than myself.”

Thompson finished his career with a 31-21 record in singles while holding down either the number one or number two spot, and he was 35-20 in doubles.

“He was one of the hardest workers I ever had come through here,” said LaGrange College head coach Matt Donnett. “He looked at coming back (for another season), but it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for him. They don’t have the right master’s program for him. He’s looking at some small Division Is, and some NAIAs, and trying to get him somewhere to play for another year.”

Thompson has already graduated with a degree in sports management, and he’s looking forward to beginning his career as a tennis professional while still hoping to play one more season of college tennis.

While his time at LaGrange College ended in disappointing fashion, Thompson has nothing but fond memories of his time at the school.

“I loved the program, and the team,” Thompson said. “It’s been an awesome experience. Coach Donnett’s a great guy. He’s been a great mentor to me personally. I’m happy to be a part of something great and help out the program, and I love being a part of the school. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Thompson, who attended Bishop Kenny High in Jacksonville, arrived at LaGrange College as a freshman for the 2016-2017 season.

After playing number two singles his first two seasons as a Panther, Thompson was elevated to the number one singles spot as a junior, and that’s where he remained.

Thompson embraced the challenge of taking on the opposing team’s best player, and he thrived in that role.

“As I got older wanting to lead the team, I wanted that, knowing you’re going against some tough competition every time,” Thompson said.

Thompson also either player number one or number two doubles during his four seasons at LaGrange College.

While Thompson’s time as a Panther is done, he’ll always keep an eye on what his former team is doing, and he said he is “excited for the future of LaGrange College tennis. It has a lot of great times ahead of it for sure.”