Jamaica-born tennis champ Richard Thomson introduced thousands to the sport


When Richard Thomson was 15, he played his first tennis match in his native Jamaica – and lost.

But after losing that match, he practiced several hours a day for two weeks with a borrowed racquet, entered a local tournament – and won.

Thomson became the first West Indian player to win a major North American tournament – the 1958 New York State Junior Tennis Championship in Syracuse.

After graduating from high school, he started his own business – Jamaica’s first credit bureau -in 1959 but maintained his love for tennis and served as president of the Jamaica Lawn Tennis Association.

He went on to represent Jamaica in the Brandon Trophy — the biggest tournament in the Caribbean — and was seven-time captain of the Caribbean/West Indies team at the Davis Cup.

In 1976, Thomson migrated to Canada with his wife and two sons and became the Ontario Tennis Association’s first technical director, a post he held for four years.

Then in 1981, he was director of tennis and head pro at the Richard Thomson International Tennis School, which he founded at Collingwood’s Tyrolean Village Resort.

In 1992, he purchased a property on Osler Bluff Road in Collingwood, his school’s new location. The facility, which had six courts and live-in accommodation for 20 students, became a family affair, with his wife and sons joining the business.

The school ran from May to October, for 30 seasons, before closing in 2011 when Thomson retired.

Richard Thomson, who died on August last year, introduced thousands to the sport, said his son, Mike.

“He made tennis more accessible to the middle class, not just the private club players,” he added.