Paul Michael Calhoun, seated middle, signs a tennis scholarship with Anderson University of South Carolina, while his parents Scott, front from left, and Alison Calhoun; and personal coach Michael Metz, back from left, and Starkville Christian School headmaster Randy Witbeck show their support. (Submitted photo)
Tennis coach Michael Metz saw something special in a young Paul Michael Calhoun and thought there was potential for him to develop his skills.
As a 10-year-old, Calhoun began taking lessons on the side from Metz and the two have formed a bond at the net.
Metz was present on Monday when Calhoun signed a scholarship to continue his tennis career with Anderson University in South Carolina.
"He's a great kid and comes from a great family," Metz said. "We've grown a lot together in eight years so that's been a long time. What they are getting out of him is an extremely hard worker. Of all the junior kids I've worked with, and I've been doing this for a while, he's one of the hardest workers I've coached.He will be a great team player and has a chance to be somebody special when he gets to that level."
Calhoun was impressed with the interest Anderson University showed in his tennis ability and that's what attracted him to its program.
"They acted like they wanted me to play for their team," Calhoun said. "That's what I wanted in a college. I wanted them to want me and I would love to play for them."
Calhoun, who is set to graduate Saturday from Starkville Christian School, said the campus at Anderson is not as big as MSU, but it's a good sized and offers all of the things a student-athlete needs to be successful.
Even though South Carolina is a few hours drive away from Mississippi, Calhoun said it's time to spread his wings and leave the state for a while.
"I might come back, but I need to leave for a couple of years to see what it's like," Calhoun said. "It will be something different to experience."
Anderson University tennis coach Joey Eskridge has visions of Calhoun contributing early for his team.
"We're looking forward to him coming in and being able to help right off the bat in doubles especially and take the place of two kids that graduate this year," Eskridge said. "He seems to be a good kid and good in the classroom. He's good on the court and I'm trying to recruit more and more Americans for our team because it's been historically an international program."
Calhoun has won some national tournaments in doubles during his participation with the United States Tennis Association league.
Tennis has been a very important tool for Calhoun and is excited to keep it going.
"It helps me exit out of other things," Calhoun said. "If I have a rough day, it's a way to get away for an hour or two, let off some steam and hit the ball as hard as you want sometimes. It's a great hobby of mine and I thought about going pro at one time, but it's too hard."
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