After nearly four years away from formal competition, you might think RCGC freshman Sebastian Gonzalez would enter the current season needing a little polish in his game. Think again.
In fact, the Roadrunners' No. 1 singles standout and 2013 Cherry Hill East graduate hasn't missed a beat. A native of Colombia, Gonzalez returned to South America to live for four years following his graduation from East before coming back to the U.S. to begin college in December 2016.
RCGC head coach Brian Rowan immediately welcomed the former high school standout with open arms, even though Gonzalez hadn't played since his scholastic days in Camden County.
"He's a guy with a lot of talent, so we knew he would help us," said Rowan, also the school's Executive Director of Athletics. "His work ethic is amazing too. Sebastian adapted to our schedule pretty quickly and never missed a beat."
Gonzalez, a computer design major, wasn't at all hesitant at taking his skills to the college level.
"I've played tennis my whole life, and it was actually very easy to get back into the game," he noted. "I was happy to play again. I felt I adjusted pretty quickly."
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Gonzalez's 2017 spring season. He has compiled a sparkling 11-1 record in singles competition, while teaming with Andrew MacDonald for an 8-3 mark in first doubles matches.
His lone defeat in singles competition came at the hands of Brookdale CC's Mostafa Moamen in his second match of the 2017 season on March 23 by scores of 6-1, 6-1. Approximately five weeks later, Gonzalez turned the tables on Moamen, surprising the Jersey Blues' standout, 6-3, 7-5.
Entering this weekend's NJCAA Region XIX Division III Tournament at Mercer County Park, hosted by Mercer County College, Gonzalez ranks as the top seed in singles competition. He will more than likely head into a third showdown with Brookdale's Moamen, and he will enter the match with plenty of confidence.
"It was a tough match," Gonzalez said of his March 23rd loss. "He's a very talented player and I learned a lot in my first match against him, so that was very helpful to me starting the season. Even though I lost, I gained some confidence and was able to adjust my game."
Should the two meet, Gonzalez hopes to continue the momentum he earned in his recent triumph over Moamen.
"Now, I know I can beat him and I know what I have to do to win, and it's important for us in this tournament. I just need to execute my game and play with confidence."
In doubles competition, he and MacDonald have proven to be a strong combination at first doubles.
"Andrew (MacDonald) and I have played well together, and we're looking forward to winning in the tournament," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez's performance has also been a difference maker in the team's won-loss record. The Roadrunners, ranked No. 3 nationally among NJCAA D III teams, have compiled a 12-2 regular season record with both losses coming to regional rival and No. 2 ranked Brookdale CC. The Runners are coming off a 2016 season in which they placed third nationally, with high expectations once again this spring as tournament time begins.
The NJCAA National Tournament follows from May 15-18 at Collin CCC in Plano, TX.