Tennis Prose



My Hit With Wilhelmina Model Kiko Henriques

Tennis is an unpredictable sport in more ways than one. Earlier this week I set up a hit with fellow Packanack Lake Tennis Club member Shlomo Raveh, who got caught in traffic from Connecticut and delayed our 5 o’clock start.

When I arrived at Packanack I noticed a group of males on the deck and first court, my first guess was they were from some kind of special school, using our courts. Then it became clear that it was some kind of photo shoot. At first I thought it was college students. Then one of the guys told me it was for a magazine.

Friends were playing doubles on court three so I walked over to say hi and watch a few points, crossing court one where three photographers were shooting this one guy, obviously a model. The model saw me and in the middle of shooting asked if I would hit with him later. I said Yes of course.

Shlomo then arrived and we hit on court two, next to the shoot on court one. After a few minutes the model who I later learned is named Francisco Kiko Henriques asked again to hit and so we did, Shlomo deferred and watched for a bit.

Kiko could hit like a pro! Perfect form, perfect Guga Kuerten physique and coordinations! Again, three photographers hovered around Kiko shooting him on his half of the court – I had to try to avoid hitting them with my shots! They must have shot two million photos all day!

Kiko could hit a great ball too, I asked if he was a junior player and he said he never took a lesson in his life, he’s self taught, and he played soccer in Portugal as a kid.

The 20 minutes of hitting was so good and equal, he asked if he could get my phone number to hit again.

When we finished, one of the photographers called out for us to shake hands at net, which we did. Hey, if they use this photo in the magazine layout, I am an official model! Hey, don’t forget my royalties!

Our club VP Tricia came to watch and she said the model group needed a court and scouted the NYC, LI, NJ area and decided on our little eight court club Packanack. They contacted our club and worked out a one day deal. The shoot was for Issue Magazine in South America and Chile. Francisco was a very busy man that day, he kept changing outfits, one I noticed was Sergio Tacchini. Later on he also rode a bike on the dam path adjacent to the courts, with of course his band of photographers doing their job.

Francisco has a look that I know I must have seen before, and you probably have too. With black curly hair and an Olympic swimmer physique, he looks like one of the top models in the world and he may be – or may become. Later that night I googled Francisco model Portugal and it immediately indentified him.

Francisco Kiko Henriques is a model for Wilhelmina in NYC, where he lives now. He’s done work for some big names including Calvin Klein, Polo, Uniqlo. And he can play 4.5 level tennis. I’m sure he’s so busy with modeling that he doesn’t get to play four or five times a week and if he did he’d be a very good tournament player.

At the end of the shoot, we talked a bit on the deck. He said he really likes the challenges of tennis and the social aspects of meeting different people and how the sport makes you think. He’s a really nice guy, as just about all people from Portugal are. And even though he’s a very successful model in a super competitive business, he doesn’t have any sense of arrogance or conceit, a really likable young man with a nice attitude and disposition.

I gave him one of my books “Facing Guillermo Vilas”, thinking he might find it interesting and educational and maybe it can inspire him to keep improving.

Once again, the sport of tennis proves how you can enjoy so many varied surprise unique experiences based on a game where you hit a little yellow ball over a net.

At our little club in Packanack you can hit with a former Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics (Natalia Shaposhnikova), Kathy Horvath’s husband, a one-armed Japanese player, a USTA 18s nationally top ranked junior (Michael Zheng), an international model, or who knows who else?

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  • Trish · May 7, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Liked “Wow!
    Supercool! Great article, Scoop!
    Perhaps they may use you as an extra in some photos!
    I Emailed Romulo to keep us informed as to what issue the spread would be in. Possibly July or August & maybe on the our new friend might make the cover, they were discussing it.
    Kiko was a sweet young & humble man, we were lucky to have experienced this opportunity & rare experience! He mentioned he would like to come back to play & bring his 2 female super models with whom he plays with in NYC. I told him he is always welcome here!!

  • Doug Day · May 9, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Agonizing meltdown by Garin at 7-5 3-1 with Berrettini. What caused wheels to come off after his sparkling run there?

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 10, 2021 at 8:40 am

    It’s never easy to finish off a tough player. Berrettini is tough.

  • Doug Day · May 10, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    And ANOTHER up-and-commer, Gianluca Mager just brushes aside De Minuar for the home town en absentia. What is that, 13 guys now in the top 100? Mussetti kid must be the most exciting watch since Andreescu. Scoop, who is the genuis-Geppetto that’s carving warriors from these soft-hearted Boot people?

  • Doug Day · May 11, 2021 at 6:28 am

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 11, 2021 at 7:50 am

    Doug, I don’t know precisely who deserves credit for this Italian resurgence/revolution in the ATP but it’s more impressive than what Canada had a couple of years ago which has since stagnated with Shapo and Felix and Raonic all seemingly hitting a ceiling or at least a temporary one.

  • acewly · May 12, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Very valuable piece



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