Teen picks up tennis and turns it into scholarship

Teen picks up tennis and turns it into scholarship
August 17
03:00 2017

Growing up, Brandon Caldwell thought if he were to obtain a scholarship to college it would be for basketball.  Once he picked up a tennis racket, though, his mode of thinking switched and set him on a course to be one of the best tennis players in Forsyth County as well as to obtain a scholarship to college.

Caldwell didn’t get into the game of tennis until he reached high school.  He was introduced to tennis by playing a game with some friends and their father.  Coincidentally, he was injured and was unable to play basketball during his sophomore year and decided to transition from basketball to tennis.  Before his Viking career concluded, he racked up quite a few honors on the court, such as a conference championship and appearances in the regional and state championship tournaments.

“Before tennis, I was a basketball athlete and that is all I played because that was my sport,” he said.  “When I went to the tennis tryouts, I just had natural talent because I am really athletic.  Tennis came rather easy for me and after my sophomore year, my tennis coach said if I keep training I could get a college scholarship.”

Caldwell credits his hard work and athleticism as to why he was able to pick up the game of tennis so quickly.  He says he practiced a lot with his high school coach but eventually saw the coach could only take him so far. 

Brandon then began to practice for hours after practice with a North Forsyth assistant coach who would not let Caldwell leave until he beat his coach.  Once his coach left, Caldwell decided to start training with Harold Moore of Forsyth Country Day. 

“I went to a summer camp with coach Moore and once he saw me hit, he told me he could get me places,” said Caldwell.  “It got to the point where I was there every day that summer and I would skip my practices at my high school to practice with him.  My high school coach understood and encouraged me to keep going.  Coach Moore was the one who really progressed my game, and I appreciate him for that.”

Caldwell says his athleticism was able to carry him during his early years playing the sport but as the competition became elevated he knew he could not just rely on that.

“Tennis is such a unique sport because you have to put in the time to become good at it,” he went on to say.  “Honestly, people think players like Serena [Williams] are so good because of power, but it’s not, its about her consistency, patience and knowing what you opponent is going to do before the ball comes over the net.”

“It’s like a chess game in your head, not really about power and athleticism,” he continued.  “I thought it was at first because I was faster but once I was humbled by opponents in tournaments I finally realized I have to pay attention to the game.”

For Caldwell he says his biggest weakness on the court was letting his anger get the best of him when things weren’t going his way.  He says his desire to win was the reason for the frustration on the court.  He says even though he goes into every match thinking he can win, he does not let his anger deter him from playing his best.

Once he arrived on the campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., he expected to immediately be successful even though he was the only African-American playing tennis at Lees-McRae. 

“My expectations were to get there, train hard every day and outshine and be better than everybody,” he said.  “Then I got there and realized that everyone was good.  Once I played throughout the season, I see that you have to focus all game because everyone is good.”

For Caldwell, he says he took his lumps this year playing tennis on a higher level.  He does not look at those defeats as a bad thing because he says he takes lessons from every loss and by the end of the year he matured.

He says going into his sophomore year he is just going to go out and give it his all.  He thinks that it’s not all about winning but just going out there and playing his game. 

Caldwell thinks that more African-American kids should try to play the game of tennis.  He says many kids are so fixated on football, basketball or track that they never think about tennis as a viable option.

Going forward, Caldwell says even though he enjoys playing tennis, after he completes his education he wants to enter the business world.  His major is business management and once his college career is over, he would love to coach tennis and teach other young African-Americans the game.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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