Area teens earn tennis scholarships
BY TIMOTHY RAMSEY
Typically when you hear of high school athletes obtaining scholarships to four year universities, football, basketball or baseball immediately come to mind.
But Makenna Mason of Atkins High School and Brandon Caldwell of North Forsyth chose an alternative route to college athletics by way of the tennis court.
Brandon will be attending Lees-McCrae College in the fall. He said he was attracted to tennis during his freshman year of high school as a sport to play during the spring. Caldwell was a basketball player initially, but turned to the tennis court full time after injuring himself during his sophomore year. He went on to say he enjoys the individual aspect of the sport because you only have yourself to rely upon.
“We have been working with Brandon for about a year and he has improved about 500 percent, and that’s not an understatement,” said tennis coach Harold Moore of Forsyth Country Day school. “When Brandon came to us, pretty much all of the girls could beat him, but he told us he wanted to raise his game, and he certainly has.”
Caldwell won the All-Conference championship while at North Forsyth. He also finished fourth in the regionals and lost in the first round of the state tournament.
Moore is not only the head coach at FCD school but also coaches youth in the community looking to excel at the sport of tennis. He brings his community group out to train with his team at FCD so all of the kids can practice together. He stated that FCD encourages the youth to come out and train with the team members as it’s a win-win for all involved.
Mason signed her letter of intent to play for Salem College come this fall. She has been playing tennis since she was a youth along with swimming and martial arts. As she entered the sixth grade, she began to focus more on tennis and her father began to enter her into local tournaments. She has been perfecting her craft since then.
“Makenna has a very dynamic power game similar to Serena Williams,” said Moore. “In my opinion she will be in one of the top spots at her school and she will be an asset immediately. She excels in the classroom as she is an honor roll student and she has been a joy to work with these past six years.”
Mason finished second in her conference and lost in the second round in the regional tournament.
Caldwell and Mason wanted to let young African-American kids know there are opportunities out there for them besides the normal sports of football, basketball, or track and field.
“When you’re black, you’re expected to play basketball and football just like I did. You really aren’t taught to play other sports such as tennis or lacrosse. I would recommend that young black kids go out and try tennis or swimming or martial arts and expand their horizons,” said Caldwell.
Mason followed by saying, “Playing other sports is fun and something different. A lot of people expected me to play basketball and run track, but those were things I wasn’t very good at. Tennis is something I’m good at and I enjoy it.”
According to Coach Moore, both of these young players have a very bright future, and he expects them to excel at the next level.