Harlon Matthews Gives Wheelchair Sports A Shot, And Realizes Wheelchair Tennis is His Best Game

Editor’s Note: After a major accident, illness or life-changing catastrophe, we have to find out who we are, who we are going to become and how we will get through life differently than originally planned. A wise person asks these questions and diligently searches for the answers to them. Some find the answers quickly, but for others, the answer takes longer. However, the answer is always there for those who seek it. Part 3 of a 5 part series.

Harlon Matthews joined a wheelchair basketball group that allowed him to stay in shape and make new friends. Once the season ended, Matthews learned about wheelchair tennis, but was uncertain and doubtful.

Harlon Matthews was uncertain about tennis at first, but little did he know that it would become his passion.

Harlon Matthews was uncertain about tennis at first, but little did he know that it would become his passion.

Matthews attended a wheelchair tennis day in Athens, Georgia. It was an incredible day because he realized how fun the sport is. His instructor helped create a zeal for sports and especially for tennis, that he never had earlier. Matthews became totally addicted tennis. He learned that in a wheelchair he could move better and faster and could be more competitive than he’d been in 1982. He was more successful in a wheelchair playing tennis, even against able bodied players, than he’d been when he was playing wheelchair basketball. Matthews explains, “I was beginning to come to terms with who I really was. I realized that having a disability was okay, which was a new revelation to me.”  

Not long after discovering his love for tennis, Matthews and the wheelchair basketball group decided to attend an all sports camp in Warm Springs, Georgia. “I felt very blessed to meet Randy Snow at this sports camp, a multi-sport paralympian,” Matthews explains. He also met Karin Korb, a paralympic medalist. Matthews could not believe the similarities between himself and these talented athletes.

Harlon Matthews, a natural born athlete.

Harlon Matthews, a natural born athlete.

Karin Korb mentored Matthews at the camp. According to Matthews, “Karin became a friend and a mentor, and she’s helped me with my career professionally and personally. She’s extremely honest and a true friend.” Matthews played basketball and tennis with Randy Snow and other wheelchair athletes. At the end of the tennis session, Snow called Matthews over to have a chat with him at the net and said, “I want to tell you something. I watched you play basketball, and I saw you shoot a 15 foot bank shot. I also saw you on the tennis court, and I can tell that you’re a natural born athlete. If you don’t keep doing these sports, you’re selling yourself short.” This was one of the best compliments that Matthews had ever received and it gave him even more motivation and drive to succeed.

Free from the bonds that had held him, and understanding that he could become something, Matthews never realized that the answer to, “What will I become now?” would come as quickly as it did.   

Next: The Moment Harlon Matthews Decided That His Life’s Purpose Is To Help Others

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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