Sheehan senior Connor Reed served out the final game in the final regular-season match of his career, winning in straight sets at No. 2 doubles with teammate Matt Pereira by his side Thursday afternoon.
A good crowd was on hand at Sheehan to watch the Titans shut out Immaculate 7-0 on Senior Day. All of Sheehan’s participants were seniors. But all eyes were on Reed.
“Thinking back four months ago, when I slipped into a coma and one of my nurses later told me I may just be able to blink my eyes — and I thought I might be paraplegic the rest of my life — to be on the court is surreal,” Reed said.
This was the first match in which Reed, 18, participated this season. The fact that Reed is able to walk, let alone play a tennis match, could be considered a miracle of modern-day medicine.
Less than five months ago, Reed was comatose and fighting for his life at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Reed was diagnosed with ADEM, an auto-immune disease where the antibodies in the body attack the nervous system. Paralysis was a possibility.
But Reed began to come around, thanks to medication and plasmapheresis, a process in which his blood was exchanged and recycled through a machine. After spending approximately a month at Yale, Reed transferred to Gaylord Hospital, a rehabilitation facility in Wallingford.
Reed spent two months at Gaylord, leaving on March 29 in a wheelchair. He said he graduated “to a walker pretty quickly” and eventually a cane, which he said he stopped using two weeks ago.
Then he stepped onto the tennis court and played a match with his friends.
“It felt great, emotionally,” Reed said. “Physically, I got a little tired. It wasn’t that bad, but I definitely lacked a lot of movement.”
On Wednesday, he participated in his first official practice of the season. While rehabbing at Gaylord, Reed promised his tennis coach, Chris Dailey, that he would return by the end of the season.
“I thought it was wishful thinking,” Dailey said. “It was a great triumph for him to get back onto the court.”
Reed and Pereira won 6-0, 6-2 in front of the largest crowd Sheehan has had all season, according to Dailey. Doctors and nurses, from both Yale and Gaylord, were on hand to witness the accomplishment.
As the match wore on, Reed said he got tired.
“My dad asked coach Dailey if the match would have to be cut short,” Reed said. “Coach looked at my dad and said, ‘Connor won’t cut it short.’”
Reed said he will graduate with his classmates later this month and will attend UConn in the fall.