Henry Reyes has an endearing and budding confidence, much like any other 20-year-old. As one of the area’s top open wheelchair tennis players, Reyes was recently interviewed about his exploits on the court and asked if he liked talking about himself.
“I better get used to it,” said Reyes, with a little smile and self-deprecating tone his good friends are so accustomed to. “I don’t mind talking about myself. If I look good and sound good, that’s all that matters.”
The Paramount resident is not only an avid player, but also teaches tennis full-time for First Break Academy in Carson. He recently completed his teaching certification for able-body players and has a passion for teaching new players the game of tennis.
When asked what the biggest thing tennis has done for him is, Reyes responded: “It’s given me confidence and connections. I’ve met amazing people and mentors like Susan Nardi and Dee Henry, who have helped me in life, but also in my coaching.”
Reyes is awaiting confirmation on his selection to his next development camp where he will get to train alongside the nation’s top wheelchair tennis players.
“Competing at the Paralympics is one of my end goals,” Reyes said, who is eager to return to a full slate of competitive events in 2022. “Short-term I would love to start traveling and playing tournaments in places like Canada, Europe and even South America.”
Another goal is to continue supporting the growth of wheelchair tennis at the collegiate level as he helps out good friend and current UCLA grad student Krista Ramirez with the new Bruins program whenever he can.
Reyes has met others like U.S. Paralympian David Wagner and the founder of wheelchair tennis Brad Parks. “I remember it,” he said. “It was at a summer camp in Mission Viejo, but I was really young. I just remember him being so nice. Those are the people who are my inspirations. And of course, the people I still hang out with like Atif Moon.”
When he’s not playing tennis, Reyes likes to listen to music and favors the old classics from the 1950s and ’60s.
Back in June, Reyes participated in a Southern California Tennis Association Foundation Wheelchair Tennis Camp and took part in a USTA certification coaching clinic.
“It was really a great experience,” said Reyes, whose personality the young wheelchair tennis players ages 6 to 14 adored. “Some of the kids were pretty wild, but in a good way. All the kids were jumping all over me.”
Reyes added: “It’s cool to teach the little ones the sport I grew up with. Wheelchair tennis is my whole life. If I wasn’t a tennis coach, I don’t know what I’d be doing.”