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13/06/2024

Madibaz number one Michael Donaldson will use the University Sports South Africa tournament as a stepping stone to higher honours as he focuses on constructing his squash career.

The 19-year-old architecture student will head up a young Nelson Mandela University team at the annual week in Johannesburg from June 30 to July 4 as he continues his sporting education.
 
Donaldson, who is currently ranked 66th in the nation, placed sixth at the Growthpoint national regional qualifiers at the weekend, following a workmanlike fifth place in the Crusaders Open the previous week.
 
The East London-born player was soaking up the experience of being exposed to the sport at a high level and felt he had found his happy place among the Madibaz class of 2023.
 
“From day one of being introduced to the squash community at Madibaz I felt extremely welcome,” said Donaldson, who is ranked among the top 10 in the province.
 
“I became a part of a team who had been very successful and I had a lot to prove, but they took me under their wing and showed me the ropes of varsity squash.”
 
With the men’s team ending third and the Madibaz placing fifth overall, the club had a successful USSA tournament last year. It culminated in them being named team of the year at the annual Madibaz Sport Awards.
 
In addition, Jason le Roux and No 1 Warren Bower were named coach and sportsman of the year, respectively.
 
The latter has now moved on and Donaldson has emerged as a leading player ready to take his game to the next level.
 
“I feel like I have matured and it’s purely down to the experience of living on my own and playing against a lot of older, more experienced players.”
 
He thought his urge to keep fighting even when he was down was one of his strengths, but he also understood the need to keep improving.
 
“Those fighting qualities are something I have developed being an underdog for most of my career,” Donaldson admitted.
 
“But I believe that my concentration in crucial moments is something that I need to put serious emphasis on as it has cost me many important matches in the past.”
 
He also needed to learn to play the pressure points well, he added.
 
Donaldson originally excelled as a tennis player, competing against his dad at the local club. During this time, he saw people arriving with different-looking rackets.
 
“One day we decided to check it out and I instantly packed the tennis racket away as I fell in love with this beautiful game, which has evolved into one of my biggest passions.”
 
He added that squash had become his outlet when his studies, especially while preparing for exams, threatened to get the better of him.
 
Donaldson represented Border teams as a junior and played for Border B in the Growthpoint senior interprovincial tournament in East London in his matric year. He debuted for the EP B side in Pretoria last year.
 
With an inexperienced Madibaz team assembling at the USSAs, he was looking forward to building his craft with the future in mind.
 
“Most of the players are in their first USSA tournament so it is going to be a great development period for our team,” he said.
 
“The main aim is to learn and absorb every moment as best as possible and to take advantage of the entire experience.”

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