Tennis: Thompson teams with Wilkison at academy
By Jordan Honeycutt
SALISBURY — What do a PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) Master Professional and a former World Top 25 Men’s singles professional tennis player have in common? Quite a lot.
Earlier this year, Jack Thompson and Tim Wilkison combined their teaching talents to form the Salisury Tennis Academy.
“I have dreamed of this for a few years,” Thompson said. “Salisbury is a hotbed for tennis and kids have always had to go out of town for expert training. Tim and I have corrected that with the academy.”
Thompson is one of 33 accredited Master Professionals in the world. He has also been mentioned as one of the top 25 teachers in the world by Tennis Magazine.
Wilkison, Thompson’s partner, is a retired professional who enjoyed victories over legends Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors, just to name a few.
Thompson’s assistants include Rick Beattie, Wayne Zurowski and Hannah Lebowitz.
“Many people teach kids to be great at being a baseline player, but fail to focus on the game at the net, among other areas,” Thompson said. “Tim and I want to teach kids to be a well-rounded player, good all over the court. Sportsmanship is a key to teaching.”
Perhaps just as excited about the academy as Thompson and Wilkison are the parents of many youngsters learning the game.
Mark DeJaco, whose daughter Jordan is a student of the academy, raves about how much improvement he has seen since she began there.
“We have taken Jordan to a lot of places for lessons, but Jack has just been golden with her,” DeJaco said. “I mean, to get someone like him and Tim here in Salisbury, we are extremely lucky. With all the big places out there like New York, California and Florida, where he could be, it’s just a steal for these kids.”
Jon Post, a father of two tennis playing sons, Abraham and Simon, agreed.
“Jack is so unique to Salisbury,” Post said. “My sons have both became smarter players and it’s no doubt to me that Jack’s teachings are preparing them for success in middle school, high school, college and possibly beyond.”
Thompson says he is as happy as he has ever been. He has been teaching the sport of tennis for 36 years and says he has never worked with a better group of kids.
Not just fathers, but mothers are also noticing the affects.
“My daugher, Lizzie has been coming here since November and she loves it,” Lori Weaver said. “Jack has such a positive attitude and work ethic that he is an excellent teacher and role model for all of the kids here.”
Lesleigh Drye has a daughter, Alexandra, who plays for Salisbury High and also takes extra lessons.
“Alexandra’s game has come so far under Jack’s coaching,” Drye said. “She has truly developed an all-court game and strategy. Most importantly, Jack tries his best to make it to her tournaments and that means very much to me as a parent.”
Thompson is trying to develop more adult and junior tennis programs with the parks and recreation department. Wilkison, along with Thompson say that they are in it for the long haul and say that there is always room for improvement with any player.