Hilton George Hollis “Tommy” Thompson, Jr. passed away on June 5, 2020, in Southern Pines, N.C.
Tommy was born on April 9, 1952, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Southern Pines, N. C. He grew up in Southern Pines. On Saturdays, at the age of nine, he could be seen riding his bike, in his tennis whites, from Southern Pines to Pinehurst to take lessons on the clay courts with Coach Roddy at the Pinehurst Country Club. Tommy was a member of the East Southern Pines High School tennis team. Life for the team centered on the Southern Pines downtown tennis courts.
He graduated from Pinecrest High School in 1970 and was inducted into the Pinecrest High School Hall of Fame in 2000. He played tennis and met his future wife, Chris Sabatelli, at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA. Under the guidance of Harry “Hop” Hopman at Port Washington, Long Island, N.Y., he began his career as a teaching pro. He continued to work with Hopman until his death in 1985. In 1978 he married Chris Sabatelli. They lived at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, FL, where they raised their three children. Tommy worked to carry on the tradition and philosophy of Hopman. And helped the tennis academy grow. Off the court, he could be found in the yard playing games with his children and their friends.
He coached many top professionals and juniors. Among them, his friend, Vitas Gerulaitis, Andrea Jaeger, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Greg Rusedski, and many others. As one pro wrote, “he was one of the most well known and finest pros in the sport.” His voice will be remembered forever in our hearts. As he could be heard on the court, encouraging us to “come on, come on.”
He loved his family, his students, and his fellow pros. He loved the game. He is preceded in death by his parents Hollis and Margaret “Peggy” Thompson.
He is survived by Chris Sonnone, his children Katie Koperski (David), Anthony Thompson, Stephanie Thompson, his grandchildren Connor, Grant, and Toler. Also, his brother, Billy Thompson, and sisters Cheryl Burke (David), Patty Thompson, and Mary Thompson.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date with family and friends in Florida.
Care of the family is entrusted to Crumpler Funeral Home-Aberdeen.