North Carolina fourth-grader excels in online school and tennis

Thalia Smith isn’t the typical 10-year-old.

She’s ranked the third-best tennis player in the nation among fourth-graders by the U.S. Tennis Association, the sport’s top governing body for youths and adults. While crisscrossing the country and traveling overseas for tournaments, and practicing up to five hours daily, she’s also excelling as a student at one of North Carolina’s two virtual public schools, where instruction is led completely online.

“It means a lot to me,” said Smith, of her achievements in school and sport, as she prepared for tennis practice Thursday afternoon. “It’s very rare and you can’t really do it just by love, you have to earn it.”

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