South Mecklenburg tennis star Jenna Thompson, who once beat Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, has a chance to do something rarely seen in high school sports.
She’s trying to end her career with a perfect record.
Thompson, a 17-year-old senior, has never lost a high school match. She’s 54-0 with three state championships. Thompson won her singles match Thursday against a Providence High opponent 6-0, 6-0.
“I’m very determined,” Thompson said. “I want to win (a fourth state championship) really bad, and I have worked really hard this spring and summer to definitely, hopefully, win it this year.”
Only four other N.C. public school girls’ players have won four state championships: Charlotte Catholic’s Laura Cowman (1989-92); Salisbury’s Julianne Treme (1993-96); Kings Mountain’s Jackie Houston (1993-96); and Brevard’s Britney Cloer (2003-06).
Thompson has five more matches before the regular-season ends Oct. 3, and then she’ll play in the SoMECK 7 conference tournament. The real journey begins Oct. 18 when N.C. 4A individual regional starts, and Thompson believes she’s more than ready.
“I train every day,” she said. “I play for two hours and two hours of fitness.”
Thompson, named a high school All-American last season, is currently ranked No. 34 nationally by tennisrecruiting.net, which tabs her as an elite 5-star college recruit. Thompson has been ranked No. 1 in North Carolina since she was 10.
Her résumé includes a national ranking as high as 18th, a Fed Ex Cup team title in California, three individual regional and state titles, plus that win over a certain Clemson football coach.
Turns out a family friend is close to the Swinneys and while vacationing in Florida a few years ago, Thompson found herself on the court playing against the coach.
“He does not like to lose,” Thompson said. “He has two forehands, a left-handed forehand and a right-handed forehand.”
Fast forward a few years and Thompson committed to play college tennis at Clemson, choosing the Tigers over Wake Forest. She committed the night of the NFL Draft.
At 2 in the morning, she got a text.
“Jenna,” Swinney wrote, “that’s awesome.”
Said Thompson: “He said he got (three) first-round (NFL) picks and he said, now he’s got me.”
But before she gets to Clemson, Thompson wants to wrap up one of the greatest careers in North Carolina history.
This season, she has lost three games in five regular-season matches. She lost five games in the regular season last year. And she wants to leave a legacy at her school.
“I would say, hopefully, they remember me,” Thompson said. “That would be nice.”
She probably doesn’t have to worry about that.