URBAN ATHLETES CARLOS GOMES & WENDY THOMPSON
Mixed doubles tennis partners, Carlos Gomes and Wendy Thompson, are using their passion for tennis for good. After playing a league match at the Khayelitsha Tennis Club, Carlos and Wendy were shocked to see the conditions that the children have to endure to play a game so close to their hearts. “Not only do most of these kids have unimaginable challenges at home, and in their daily lives, but now they face these conditions when doing something we take for granted, playing tennis,” explains Carlos. “Yet even under these conditions we were welcomed with open arms and massive smiles. The enthusiasm and joy we witnessed was heart-warming and saddening at the same time. Wendy and I decided then and there we needed to do something.”
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Urban Athletes Carlos Gomes and Wendy Thompson
It was here that Grass Roots Tennis campaign was started. The aim of the charity is to promote tennis, leadership and discipleship within the under-privileged communities in the Western Cape. “We decided that we wanted to raise enough monies to resurface or build courts in 5 townships in the Western Cape, as well as provide equipment, clothing and coaching to the children – in essence our aim is to start a Tennis Academy in the townships,” says Wendy.
In order to raise the funds needed, Wendy and Carlos decided to set a new Guinness World Record for the longest marathon singles tennis match. The current record set is 63hrs20min, Wendy and Carlos aim to play for 65hours; that is 2 and half days of playing tennis, with only a 5 minute break each hour. The record attempt will take place on Friday the 3rd of February until Monday the 6th of February at the Constantia Tennis Club.
So who are Wendy and Carlos when they are not planning to play tennis for 65hours straight? According to Carlos, Wendy is the comedian, the face and the personality behind this event and charity, while Carlos is simply the fool that thought it up and twisted her arm to join him in this madness!
Besides being mom to her 3 beautiful children, Wendy has a passion for people, tennis, dogs and reading. “I’ve been playing tennis since I was 8 years old and trust me, that’s a long time. I still have weekly coaching, my coach refers to me as his retirement fund, and in fact last year I am sure my coaching fees alone paid for his family holiday to Bali! I have a very large heart for people. I absolutely love people. Any people. Oh, and dogs. In fact my husband and kids were having discussion about what sort of animal I would be if I was an animal and the conclusion was a Golden Retriever, because I run up to everybody with a BE MY FRIEND, BE MY FRIEND, BE MY FRIEND enthusiasm. My husband is the introvert so when he is not embarrassed, he is grateful because he often says that if it wasn’t for me, we would not have any friends.”
“I have 3 teenage kids and I take my job as Chief Embarrassing Parent very seriously!! My ultimate happy place absolutely has to be sitting on the couch, knitting, watching tennis on the TV and drinking wine! All jokes aside, this project ticks all the boxes for me. I am so aware of how privileged I am and how many people out there that have so little. If there is one legacy I can leave behind, it is that it is better to give than receive. To be able to give this to those kids, and hopefully forge a successful future for them, would permanently place a smile on my wrinkled face.”
Carlos is the Chairman of the Constantia Tennis Club and works as a sales rep for a high end audio-visual wholesaler and distributor. He has been married for 14 years and is the proud parent of a Bordeaux Mastiff and Persian cat. At the age of 45, Carlos says he is in the best shape he has ever been in since training for the record attempt! “I have always been sporty from cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey, volleyball, golf and tennis you name it, if didn’t involve water I did it. Tennis and cricket were my two strengths and I still love both but only play tennis, the balls are softer and no one is really trying to knock my head off.”
“By day I am a sales rep in the Audio Visual industry and really enjoy the job. But if I could earn a living playing sports I would but at my age that option is almost impossible unless I take up old-man’s marbles! Even now when I play league tennis for Constantia Tennis Club I do it because I like the competitive side of the game but mostly because I enjoy the company of my teammates and the privilege of being healthy and able to play this beautiful sport.”
“In all seriousness, I have always been a giver and now that I can use the sport I love and have the opportunity to do something for the less fortunate I am excited to achieve this record and make a difference. The aim is to carry on doing crazy, unique things in order to make this charity sustainable.”
Keep Going Carlos & Wendy!