Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903

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Gibby Thomas (11): she’s what’s next

Noah Phillips, Staff Writer

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This year, at the U.S. Open in Arthur Ashe Stadium, an advertisement for television audiences featuring the school’s own Gibby Thomas (11) was played. Thomas was featured hitting paint-covered tennis balls against a wall to form a mural headlining the words “I Am What’s Next.” The ad was by Net Generation, an organization committed to serving youth and teaching them tennis.

Thomas’ ad was exciting for members of the Girls Varsity Tennis team, many of whom were in attendance and saw the ad live.

“I freaked out. I couldn’t believe that she was there (on the screen). We’re all really proud of her,” JJ Ryu (10), who was at the US Open when the ad aired, said.

Some didn’t recognize Thomas until the ad had been played multiple times Oliver Chonoles (12), said. “I think it’s really cool that someone from Horace Mann was able to do a high-profile ad like that.”

Thomas said the process as incredibly professional and efficient.

“I went in for some test shots and then in August we filmed it,” she said. “I had to wear the outfit that they chose for me. I dipped the balls in paint and then hit them so paint actually splattered all over me. The balls made marks on the wall, but they had painters come and make the final designs.”

Thomas described the opportunity to take part in the advertisement as impromptu and not heavily scheduled, but a great experience for her. “I don’t have any plans to make any more ads right now, but if the opportunity presents itself that would be great,” Thomas said.

“I was really excited when I saw it. They sent it to me only about a day before a lot of other people saw it. It was really cool because I had no idea what it was going to end up like,” Thomas said. “I didn’t get to see the ad in person. It was played during the opening ceremony in Arthur Ashe and I wasn’t there but a lot of my friends were sending me videos of it and they were all really excited for me.”

Thomas’ skill has long been regarded by members of the Horace Mann community. Girls Varsity Tennis Coach Rawlins Troop describe Thomas’ tennis play as tenacious while Oliver Chonoles describes her play as powerful and aggressive. Yet, what truly distinguishes Thomas on the court is her sportsmanship and grace displayed to her opponent, so much so that an opposing coach complimented her on this trait, Coach Troop said. Even though she plays to win, and does so on a regular basis, her kindness to fellow competitors is a highly notable trait of hers.

“Gibby’s just amazing on and off the court. She brings incredible energy to the court, and is always a good sport,” said Isha Agarwal (10). Thomas has been a source of pride for the HM community whenever she plays according to Coach Troop, and her appearance at the US Open is no exception.

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
Gibby Thomas (11): she’s what’s next