Friday, June 17, 2016

Bay Area's McDonald turns professional

Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont in the San Francisco
Bay Area has decided to forgo his senior year at UCLA
and turn pro. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman 
   To no one's surprise, Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area has decided to forgo his senior year at UCLA and turn pro.
   McDonald recently became the first man to sweep the NCAA singles and doubles titles since Matias Boeker of Georgia 15 years. The last woman to accomplish the feat was Nicole Gibbs of Stanford in 2012. She also gave up her senior year and is now ranked No. 75 in the world in singles.
   "It was a difficult decision, but at this time I feel more ready than ever to be turning professional," McDonald, who signed a representation agreement with Octogan, said Thursday on uclabruins.com. "The last three years of college tennis have been filled with amazing experiences that I will never forget. I do wish one day to finish my UCLA degree, but until then, I will be working on my professional career."
   McDonald is the fourth UCLA player since 2011 to leave school early for the pro tour, joining Daniel Kosakowski (2011), Dennis Novikov (2013) of Milpitas in the Bay Area and Marcos Giron (2014).
   "It goes without saying that we are sorry to see Mackie leave, as he has meant so much to this program the last three years," UCLA coach Billy Martin, a former Bruins star who reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 1977, said on uclabruins.com. "Our philosophy at UCLA in recruiting top junior players like Mackie is to prepare them for professional tennis, so we are excited when they get this opportunity.
   "All of us at UCLA wish him the best of luck. He will certainly be missed this up and coming season, but we look forward to following his success on the professional tour."
   McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms), already has had considerable success in pro tournaments as an amateur. He is ranked No. 420 in the world under his longtime private coaches, Wayne Ferreira and Rosie Bareis. Ferreira, a South Africa native and former Berkeley resident, reached a career-high No. 6 in 1995.
   Three years ago, before McDonald had enrolled at UCLA, he became the only unranked teenager to qualify for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level for men besides the Grand Slams. McDonald stunned then-No. 79 Nicolas Mahut of France and then-No. 128 Steve Johnson of Orange in the Los Angeles are to advance to the main draw in Cincinnati.  
   Johnson, who led USC to four NCAA team titles (2009-12) and won two NCAA singles titles (2011, 2012), now is the fourth-ranked American at No. 39. Mahut is No. 51 at age 34.
   On the U.S. Challenger circuit last fall, McDonald reached the semifinals in Tiburon in the Bay Area, quarterfinals in Sacramento and, as a qualifier, semis in Champaign, Ill.

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