Community Spotlight: Zack Wentz
Following a devastating life-altering injury 10 years ago, it didn’t take long for Zack Wentz to return to the game he has loved his entire life.
The 25-year-old downtown Los Angeles resident Wentz was injured as a high school sophomore in Switzerland after following on some steps heading to class after a skiing session. A blood clot formed compressing his spinal and a month later he was left paralyzed on New Year’s Eve 2008.
After months of rehab, Wentz returned to his Menlo Park, Calif., in Northern California in March of 2009. That summer he entered – and won! – his first wheelchair tennis tournament.
“Tennis has long been my passion and I’ve played it since I was a young kid,” said Wentz, who in August graduated from USC with a degree in economics and music. “I’m a numbers guys so I’ve always got into the patterns and angles. I just love everything about tennis.”
As a freshman, Wentz was the MVP of his varsity tennis team that won the league title.
“My injury changed my life in so many ways, but it didn’t change me as a competitor or a fighter,” he added.
Wentz has dabbled in other wheelchair sports like basketball and quad-rugby, and has aspirations on someday play for the U.S. Quad Tennis team in the Paralympics. In 2011, Wentz qualified for the U.S. Open in table tennis in Milwaukee. “That was quite an experience just having the national anthem played and wearing the uniform,” he said.
While at USC, Wentz launched a wheelchair basketball tournament as part of Swim With Mike, a USC scholarship initiative that helps athletes with physical disabilities overcome their challenges.
But tennis is his first love. This past summer, Wentz won his first “A” tournament in singles and doubles.
Wentz said his goal is to play more Open tournaments. Since graduating, however, Wentz has experienced some health setbacks, and hasn’t been able to train. He can’t wait to get back to the game he loves and return to playing with a group of SoCal players that play out of Biola University in La Mirada.
“I just love the sport of tennis, and I love competing,” Wentz said.