Makenzie Craft is Gone to the Dawgs
by Ali Jones
, 30 May 2012
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With her sister off to college in the fall, Makenzie Craft's motivation to pursue her own college plans intensified. She unofficially visited Texas A&M and Baylor, flew to Southern California and drove around USC, UCLA, and Pepperdine. She also checked out Arizona State, Vanderbilt and Virginia.
Her feeling was, "Yeah, I could see myself there, but..."
"I was so confused and I asked my friends who are older and they all said well, you feel it, and I'm like, I'm not feeling anything," the gregarious Texan laughed. "I don't know what y'all are talking about."
Upon the suggestion of her coach, Joey Rive, she went south to Athens, still in search of the elusive "feeling." By April, Craft had her "aha" moment that led to her signing a National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs in Fall 2012, a year earlier than her class.
"During her visit it was very apparent that Makenzie would fit in with our team and coaching staff," Head Coach Jeff Wallace said. "She is outgoing, energetic, and looking forward to having a great college experience. We were all fired up with her passion to become a Georgia Bulldog."
Blue chip Craft, who is homeschooled, will spend her summer finishing up her high school coursework, and will leave home at the same time as her older sister, Madison, an incoming Boston U Terrier.
"Graduating early is not for everybody," Craft said, but after consulting with her family and coach, she decided that she was ready. "It just seemed to fit for me. The opportunity for my tennis is just amazing. I'm going to hit with great girls and get great coaching."
The Craft sisters, born 18 months apart, began tennis on a lark when they were 7 and 9, unaware then that they would each earn full rides at Division 1 colleges.
"Whenever either of us needed to hit extra or serving or whatever, we're always there for each other," said four-star Madison. "If we don't feel like going to practice one day, we'll both go like, let's go hit some balls or something."
Half-joking and half-serious, Makenzie said she might have gone into "deep depression" if she stayed home after her sister left.
"We've always done things together," Makenzie said. "I personally think if I had not started tennis with Madison I would not be as far as I am today. It's the sort of thing where we picked up the good things about each other, and we just kinda meshed them together. Like my feistiness has rubbed off on her and her patience has rubbed off on me. We started to become almost the perfect person."