Harry III started playing tennis at the age of 12 in 1950 at the Piedmont Driving Club under pro Jack Waters. At that time, all the good players in Atlanta either played there or the Atlanta Tennis Club on North Avenue. In 1951 at the age of 13, he won his first tournament, the 15 singles at Dan Magill’s Crackerland tournament in Athens. Harry was ranked #1 in the south and #8 in the nation in the 15 singles in 1953.
Harry and Ned Neely led Westminster to the National high school team championship in 1956. That same year Harry was ranked #15 in the nation in 18 singles.
Harry teamed with Ned Neely in 1960 to lead Georgia Tech to SEC team championship. In 1959 they led Tech to a 19-2 team record and in 1960 Ned and harry won the #1 and #2 singles and #1 doubles and team championship in The Southeastern Conference. he and Ned placed 2nd in the NCAA doubles in Seattle, WA. In 1960 he and Dave Peake won the Georgia Intercollegiate. Some 50 years later Harry still holds the all-time singles and doubles (with Ned Neely) percentage record at GA tech.
After graduating from Tech Harry spent two years in the Navy where he won the Naval Forces Europe singles and doubles title in London while stationed at Port Lyautey, Morocco and represented the Navy in the Armed Forces Tournament in Newport R.I.
In his own words (2016):
Name is Harry Thompson. Lt Jg. USNR. Arrived Port Lyautey straight out of Navy Supply School in Athens, GA as a 22 year old Ensign.
Came through NROTC at GA Tech. Left States from Charleston SC Air Force base headed to Nourasseur AFB outside Casablanca. Landed in Bermuda and on way to the Azores developed engine trouble. Hopped a flight on a P2V headed straight to Pt Lyautey. A scary flight.
Relieved Ted Prehodka, who in turn relieved Lt Jg Ed Mims as Disbursing Officer. Ted was a great boss. Disbursing Office was right near airstrip the French fighters used on their way to Algeria. Lived in the BOQ along with some great guys mostly in their mid-twenties. Rode bikes to Media beach then got a Volkswagen that came in by ship to Casablanca. Traveled to Morocco, Fez, Meknes, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Sidi, Slimane, Agadir, middle and high Atlas Mountains to Gorges of Todra, Ksare Souk and Tinerha. Many trips to Bouknadel Beach.
Ted and his wife Grace lived off base and they invited me over for dinner and holidays many times. People in the Supply Dept. that I remember were Pat Loftin whose husband was at Public Works, CDR Healy, CDR LeBough, CDR Donnerly. Base commanders were Capt. McCurtan and Capt. Counihan. Played lots of tennis in Rabat and Casablanca, even went to Long and Newport on Navy Tennis Team. Coached Supply Dept. baseball and basketball teams. Bowling was very popular in our spare time.
In Jan. 1961 VR 22 lost a plane near the Azores. Naval Ordinance Facility moved to Rota, Spain. FAB. 61 King Mohammed died and his son Hussein took over. Good friends on base were Bryan O’Leary, Bob Seawright, Jim Gardner, and lots of guys at FICEUR and FWC. Flew often to Gibraltar even Paris, Granada and Naples. For a young bachelor that only spent 2 years in the Navy it was a great duty. Many things 55 years later that I still remember as if it were yesterday. recommend 2 books about Morocco.
1. A Cold War Story by Lt. Jim Conkey who was stationed at NOF
2.Stoles Lives by Malika Oufakir – the daughter who was imprisoned many years whose father Gen. Okifakir was said to be involved with one of the assassination attempts on the King.
In 1967 Harry brought the 1967 Davis Cup Team to Atlanta to play in the Atlanta Invitational. It was that year John Skogstad had his famous match with then #1 ranked player Arthur Ashe. In 1982 Harry served as V.P. of the Southern Tennis Association and continued to serve ALTA in a board and advisory position. He along with John Skogstad and John Callen started the Ga Tennis Hall of Fame in 1982.
In his business career he served as president of Conklin Metal Industries, Atlanta Rotary Club, and Northwest Atlanta Young Life and on the board of Atlanta Speech School, the Summit Charter School, and Capital City Club.
Harry is married to the former Eleanor Ashcraft and they have three children, Harry, Martie, and Robbie.