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Thompson rediscovering love for tennis after tragedy

 TOC Josh Thompson

By Ashley Marshall

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When Josh Thompson's father, Jeff Timpanero, passed away in 2016 due to complications related to an autoimmune disease, Josh felt his entire world fall apart.

He left Kingwood Community College in Texas to go back home to help look after his five younger siblings, Guthrie, Pippilotti, Lachlan, Vigo and Ty, and he stopped socializing and playing sport, something that previously gave him his greatest joy.

In January, Josh decided to enroll at the University of Houston. Since that time, club tennis has played a huge role in helping the junior find himself and rediscover his love of the game.

"I came back home to be with my brothers and sisters and make sure they were OK," he said of leaving college. "It was tough for me. But in December this past year, I knew I needed to pick up a sport. I just had to do something and the first thought that came to me was to start playing tennis again." 

Josh's entire family on his father's side played tennis, so the Texas native inevitably got initiated into the sport at a young age. He played both tennis and baseball growing up, and he chose the court over the diamond in middle school when he was told he needed to pick one or the other. 

Josh went on to play varsity tennis in high school, and from his sophomore year he played in the No. 1 singles spot. He'll be the first to admit that he flamed out, a result of over-coaching and taking the sport too seriously. He stopped enjoying the game and eventually walked away, leaving his racquet in its bag for more than two-and-a-half years. 

But after his dad’s death, Josh started participating in tennis drills and instruction at a gym close to his house. A coach at the clinic suggested he join the club tennis team at Houston, where he had just enrolled to study history with a minor in education, with the hopes of a career in coaching upon graduation.

"I didn't know if I wanted to do that, but he promised me it would be a lot of fun," Josh said. "I came to the team hoping this would pick me back up. My expectation was that it would be an awesome opportunity to do something athletic. Now I hope to be a part of it for a long time.

"I started remembering that I loved tennis. It was a lot of fun and right then I knew I would be playing tennis for a while."

Josh quickly became an important member of the Houston team and helped the club qualify through sectionals for the National Championship. 

After swatting away a volley on match point in the tiebreak of the men's doubles against rivals University of Texas on Saturday afternoon in the team's final contest in Orlando, Josh let out an emphatic scream. Afterward, he said it was the most fun he's had on a court. He also knew his father was watching him.  

"He was probably thinking it shouldn't have been that close," Josh said with a smile. "His heart probably skipped a beat. I remember when I first started playing tennis, he would take me out on the court. He would always tell people that I have Timpanero blood running through me and that I would always play tennis."