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USTA Georgia
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MacDougall Keeps on Path to Health

July 23, 2017 05:29 PM

Story and photo by Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

Chris MacDougall leads his South Carolina 5.0 men's team.

Recovering from leukemia is a challenge for anyone. For someone who is gifted enough to have a competed at a national level, it’s a long road back.

Chris MacDougall convalesced in a Duke University hospital for 100 days. During that time, he focused on his health. Also, his passion for tennis was put on hold, but only temporarily.

You have to go back to the late 1980s when MacDougall was a promising junior, working out Nick Bolletieri’s famed academy with the likes of Andre Agassi and Jim Courier. From there he went out on the USTA Pro Circuit, with limited results.

“I was good but not good enough,” he said while keeping his eye on his team he captains, the 5.0 men from South Carolina.

MacDougall said he realized that pro tennis may be beyond his reach and reevaluated his goals. He went on to play at the University of New Mexico, which led him to his now home state of South Carolina. He also served as a assistant women’s tennis coach at the University of South Carolina. He now works in health services sales.

MacDougall turned his attention to playing in adult tournaments. He was a finalist at 5.0 and 5.5 Category II Nationals (2014 and 2015) in Palm Springs Calif. He’s won amassed two silver balls, emblematic of being a runner-up in a USTA championship, along with three bronze balls.

His ability to compete started to deteriorate in 2010. “I was playing but I was totally exhausted,” he explained. He was diagnosed with leukemia.

August third is my 6 year anniversary post transplant and doing great. 

MacDougall added, “I had a bone marrow transplant. That gave me a new blood type.”

The transplant led to the 100 days of confinement in the Duke hospital. “I just wanted to get back on the tennis court. I even played with a port in my chest.”

It was a slow grind of two years to get him back to his competitive level. Next week, he will celebrate six years of improved health since the transplant.

“I always thought I would be back and playing well.” Now MacDougall is captaining his second USTA League team after one stint in 2009. Now he is proud to have made the trip to these sectional championships.