Tourney honors a 9/11 fireman

Street named for him, too

By ROBIN HAAS
DAILY NEWS WRITER

A Springfield Gardens firefighter who perished Sept. 11 will be doubly honored this weekend.

A paddle tennis tournament in memory of Firefighter William Henry will be held in Riis Park on Saturday and Sunday, and on Saturday, the street where Henry lived will be renamed after him.

The New York State Paddle Tennis Association is planning the first William Henry Memorial Doubles Paddle Tennis Tournament in memory of the 49-year-old Henry, who had a passion for playing paddle tennis and helping others.

Henry, who was single, was a firefighter at Rescue Co. 1 in Manhattan.

"He was there for everybody," said longtime friend Ray Kemp, who met Henry playing sports at Riis Park, on the Rockaway peninsula.

Kemp said Henry, who was known as Buddy, was the kind of guy who would go out of his way to help people, at any time of the day or night. No act of kindness was too big or too small or too inconvenient. "He was one helluva guy."

It was Kemp who started the ball rolling to create the tournament as a "living memorial," and he said expects it to draw many fellow firefighters who knew Henry and shared his love for paddle tennis.

"I wanted everybody to remember the type of person he was," Kemp said.

The tournament, which is open to the public and free to enter, kicks off at 10 a.m. each day, said New York State Paddle Tennis Association founder and President Jack Heller.

"It's considered a lifetime sport like tennis and golf, and anyone of any age can play," said the 55-year-old retired physical education teacher, who has played paddle tennis for 40 years.

Heller often played with Henry at Riis Park and described him as a serious player who "loved the game."

"He was a gentleman, a gentleman of the highest order, and he would help kids in his neighborhood any which way he can," Heller said.

Tourneys and scholarships

The paddle tennis association, a nonprofit organization, sponsors tournaments and clinics throughout the summer and raises tuition money for needy high school and college kids - giving out some $12,000 over the years, he said.

The association offers Queens and Brooklyn paddle tennis players a chance to meet, compete and share their passion for the game.

Also on Saturday, in ceremonies set for 11 a.m., a portion of 133rd Ave. at Farmers Blvd. will be renamed William L. Henry Ave.



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