Banquet to honor Henry Harris

Published 12:40 am Friday, October 22, 2010

NATCHEZ — Henry Harris has spent his adult live giving back to the youth in Adams County.

So it seems appropriate that for one weekend, some of his former students are giving back to him.

A banquet will take place at 7 p.m. today at the Natchez Community Center to honor Harris for his years of service as the Duncan Park tennis director.

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A tennis tournament will also take place at Duncan Park this weekend in Harris’ honor with the proceeds going to fund a scholarship in Harris’ name.

Banquet committee chairman Vincent Bonds said the current and former tennis players thought it would be appropriate to honor Harris in this way.

“Henry Harris has been a pioneer for over 40 years of helping out the youth and helping Natchez period,” Bonds said. “Not only is he involved with the youth, he’s also involved with wheelchair tennis and is the (United States Tennis Association) representative for our area.

“All the current and former tennis players are getting together to give him the honor he deserves.”

Bonds said numerous current and former tennis players, including former Natchez mayor Tony Byrne, will be featured at the banquet.

The banquet and tennis tournament came as a surprise to Harris, who said he is humbled by the recognition.

“It’s a great honor,” Harris said. “I never expected anything like this.”

Harris said his love of helping the area youth came from his own experience as a youngster.

“Growing up there wasn’t too much recreation in Adams County in the 50s for African-American kids, so we didn’t have a lot to do,” Harris said. “At that time they had boxing matches at the city auditorium every other Friday.

“A man by the name of Mr. Hall would come and teach us boxing. And he knew all our birthdays, so when he came he’d bake us a cake. He was about molding us into being professional people rather than being kids who hung out around the neighborhood. That made a big impression on me.”

Approximately 30 people have already registered for the tennis tournament, which is open to the public.

There are several divisions available, from beginner level to expert level.

The entry fee for the tournament is $30 per person, which also includes a ticket to the banquet.

Tickets can be purchased at Duncan Park Tennis Shop or by calling 601-442-1584.

For more information about either tonight’s banquet or this weekend’s tennis tournament, contact Bonds at 601-660-3592.