She talks as smooth as she plays. She speaks with a rhythm not that much different than the way she strikes a tennis ball. And her answers are smart, calculated and well thought out – the same way she approaches a match.
Now a junior, Goldberg moved up from four singles to one singles this year and seems right at home at the top of the Pioneer varsity tennis lineup. During her match with Grosse Ile on Thursday she showed no signs of nervousness or doubt as she took the first set 6-0 and then finished things off 6-2 to take the match.
“The rule in tennis is the best player on the team has to play one singles,” says Goldberg. “So at four singles you play a wide variety of players with different skill sets. You can play someone who is really good or play someone who hasn’t played a lot of tennis. But at one singles you are playing against the best player on the other team so it’s going to be challenging and a lot harder.”
PIONEERS KNOCK OFF GROSSE ILE: https://weloveannarbor.com/2018/04/12/pioneer-tennis-pioneers-net-a-7-1-win-over-visiting-grosse-ile/
Every tennis team does challenge matches to determine one singles and Goldberg earned the right to be No. 1 based on her success in those matches. As a freshman, Goldberg played two doubles and then four singles last year as she quickly climbed the ladder.
“My goal has always been to play one singles and now I’m here,” she says with a laugh. But she’s more than ready to take on the challenge.
Pioneer lost some quality seniors off last year’s team and are in a somewhat rebuilding phase or reloading phase is probably more like it. The Pioneers have won five state titles: 1992, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2010. And since 1993, Pioneer has finished second 11 times in the state finals.
They landed sixth at last year’s state meet led by No. 1 singles player and state champion Kari Miller. Goldberg lost in the state semifinals last year at four singles.
“We are doing OK this year,” Goldberg says. “It’s not going to be easy but I think we will play well and hopefully get to states. That’s our goal for this year.”
Goldberg is a patient player on the court but will attack when she feels the time is right. She can usually sense during warmups or the first few games the type of player on the other side of the net. Once she sizes her up, Goldberg will set her approach in motion.
“I like to take my time out there,” she says. “I like to be consistent because I think that can frustrate a lot of people. But at the same time when I get a chance to attack, I love to attack. It all depends on the opponent.”
Meg, who started playing at the age of 4, grew up with tennis and has a pretty good coach living in her house. Her father, Dan Goldberg, was a highly successful tennis player back in the day at Michigan. He was Big Ten Player of the Year (1988), NCAA All-American (1987-88), Big Ten Sportsman of the Year (1989), NCAA singles finalist (1987) and member of the US National Team (1987-88). He is a longtime coach/teacher at Liberty Athletic Club.
So, yeah, that helps.
“He first taught me to love the sport and if you are happy playing the sport and having fun then that’s all that matters,” she said. “I’m not necessarily looking for a lifetime of tennis. I want to keep playing as long as I can. I’m still having a good time and love playing so we will see where that takes me.”
Goldberg hasn’t mapped out her future yet but would like to play tennis in college and pursue “something in business.”
“I take school pretty seriously,” she says, as her 3.9 grade-point average would confirm.
She also is taking tennis pretty seriously. She hits balls all winter at Liberty and it’s a year-round sport for her at this point of her life. And why not, she’s having fun. She’s also pretty good at it.
“My goals for this year are to have a winning record, have fun and get to know my teammates better,” she says. “And make it to states.”