By GUS OSTRUM, RCGC Athletics
Andrew MacDonald is fast becoming quite a pro on the tennis court.
Seems like everyone is benefitting from his expertise, especially his RCGC teammates, who are off to a flying 6-1 start and a No. 3 spot in the most recent NJCAA Division III Junior College National Rankings.
With a 5-2 individual record at No. 2 singles and a 5-2 mark at first doubles with teammate Sebastian Gonzalez, MacDonald has contributed to the Roadrunners' success this spring as they approach important matches this weekend in the Harford Invitational in Bel Air, MD.
He also has found success in other ways in boosting not only his Roadrunner teammates but the local South Jersey tennis community. That is due to MacDonald's natural leadership abilities along with a new position as a volunteer instructor at the nearby Berlin-Voorhees Tennis Center.
The 2015 Cumberland Regional High School graduate is enjoying a solid impact in helping the Runners once again reach national prominence in NJCAA Division III competition.
"He's been a real leader to everyone on this team," coach Brian Rowan said. "Andrew is very passionate and has a lot of athleticism, and his teammates have learned a lot from him. He wants to win and he wants the team to win, and he steps up any way he can to make that happen."
Rowan points to MacDonald as a key figure in the Roadrunners' rise to a No. 3 national ranking.
"We have some talented players here, but having Andrew step up as our leader has made a difference," said Rowan, also RCGC's Executive Director of Athletics. "His leadership and his play against some tough competition have set great examples, especially for the younger players."
MacDonald has also set a personal goal of winning both a Division III national team championship along with gaining All-American status in individual play, although he admits there is plenty of work ahead to achieve these lofty goals.
In 2016, the Roadrunners continued a streak of seven top three finishes nationally when they placed third overall as a team in the NJCAA National Tournament in Plano, TX. All members of the RCGC team earned points in the tournament and the Roadrunners came home with two NJCAA All-Americans.
"We came close last season in the team race, and we're looking to make a nice run this year," MacDonald said. "We expect to be very competitive."
The Region XIX Tournament will be held May 5 to May 7 at Mercer County Park. The NJCAA National Tournament follows in mid-May at Collin CCC in Plano, TX.
Aside from MacDonald, the Runners have received outstanding play from several individuals, including singles players Gonzalez (6-1 record), Steve Harbeson (7-0), and Mike Colville (7-0). Gonzalez and McDonald have posted a 5-2 mark at first doubles.
Outside of his play on the RCGC men's team, MacDonald donates his time teaching youth league and high school players the sport he loves. He volunteers several hours per week as an instructor at the Berlin-Voorhees Tennis Center.
The RCGC sophomore enjoys helping South Jersey youth, especially since he did not have this opportunity growing up. He did not take up the sport until his high school career at Cumberland Regional.
"I didn't start playing tennis until I was older, and I can't help but feel I would have been a better athlete if I had taken an interest in the clinics when I was younger," he said. "These players are hard workers and they're benefitting from the instruction at a younger age. I've enjoyed my role in their development."
MacDonald will graduate this spring with an Associate's Degree in Business Administration and hopes to continue his tennis career in a four-year NCAA Program. He is currently considering West Chester University, Wilkes College and Ramapo College among his choices, but will not decide until the conclusion of the current season.