MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - A Mount Vernon tennis player has been named to the first-ever United States Tennis Association Junior Leadership team for her work on and off the court.
On Thursday, the USTA announced that Mount Vernon native Gibson Thomas was named to the inaugural squad, which recognizes the nation’s top junior tennis players that exhibit leadership, sportsmanship and character in their lives.
Thomas is one of nearly 30 players that were recognized this week by the USTA, nominated in her region for her achievements on the court and in the community.
“These are players whose achievements speak volumes about their character, both as tennis players and as members of the community,” USTA Director of Junior Tourmanets Bill Montford stated. “With the USTA Leadership Team, we’re glad to have a way to recognize the tremendous examples they’ve set on and off the court.”
As a freshman at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, Thomas led the varsity tennis team to an undefeated season and the Ivy League title. She has been ranked in the top 25 in her age division of the USTA Eastern section rankings and is among the top 250 players ranked in the country, coming in at 222. Thomas has earned three different sectional and national USTA sportsmanship awards in her short career.
“I started playing tennis at the Mount Vernon Tennis Center when I was 5-years-old. I played with the big kids on Friday evenings. They acted like my big brothers and sisters. I loved being at the tennis center. I even loved caring for the clay courts, sweeping and lining them as we were required to do,” she said. “I love all of this, but the thing I love most about tennis is that it gives me a special tool that I can use to contribute to my community.”
This month, Thomas will open her first camp, Tennis Time, under the guidance of her longtime coach Lennox Dressage, who she worked with at Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester, Concordia College in Bronxville, West Rock Tennis Club and Sportime.
“I love to visit (the Tennis Center) in the spring and play with the little kids. Now that I am a big kid, they love having my attention, and because I remember how it feels, I love giving it to them. I am very proud of Tennis Time, the program I will teach at Grimes Elementary School (this month),” she added.
“In a three-week program, we will give kids, and their parents, tools to improve the fitness of the children through nutrition and physical play. I will work with Coach Brian Simunyola to teach the children youth tennis, and a school nurse will work with their parents on issues of nutrition. In this way, I will use tennis to impact not just my health, but the health of my community.”