By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Ester Goldfeld is having an outstanding season for the No. 1-ranked Duke women's tennis team. Currently ranked 24th in the NCAA Division I singles rankings, the 20-year-old junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., has a 24-7 record to date this year, giving her more than 20 wins in a season for the first time in her college career.
Goldfeld was an All-ACC selection during her freshman and sophomore seasons and was one of the most highly recruited junior players in the country before deciding to attend Duke. She was ranked in the Top 30 of the ITF World Junior Rankings and played in all four junior Grand Slam tournaments, highlighted by reaching the quarterfinals at the 2010 Australian Open. She has also had success competing at the pro level, defeating former WTA Top 100 players Julie Coin and Julie Ditty at USTA Pro Circuit events.
In the latest USTA.com College Spotlight, Goldfeld discusses why she chose college over turning pro, her favorite thing about being a Blue Devil, her goals for the season, her plans for after graduation and more.
USTA.com: You had a very successful junior career and were one of the top recruits in the country. Did you ever consider turning pro straight from the juniors, or did you always know you wanted to attend college?
Ester Goldfeld: Like many juniors, I had thoughts about turning pro, but getting a good education was always my priority, so I chose to go to college.
USTA.com: What made you choose Duke?
Ester Goldfeld: Duke was actually the first and only college that I visited. On my official visit, I fell in love with the campus, the team, the learning opportunities and the atmosphere. I felt extremely comfortable, at home, and knew that Duke was where I wanted to spend the next four years.
USTA.com: What is the best thing about Duke and being a Blue Devil?
Ester Goldfeld: Being a Blue Devil means that I have a target on my back. Some might say that it adds pressure, but Billie Jean King once said that “pressure is a privilege,” and I live by that quote.
USTA.com: Do you find it difficult to balance tennis and academics? How do you do it?
Ester Goldfeld: It’s difficult for all athletes to balance their sport and academics. When it gets to be too much to handle, I know that I can turn to my coaches, team, professors and academic advisors for help. There is help available at every corner at Duke.
USTA.com: What do you enjoy most about college tennis?
Ester Goldfeld: I enjoy the team aspect the most. Junior tennis was highly individualistic, and sometimes it felt as if I didn’t have many people who I could turn to and share my struggles and success with. Being on a team gives me the opportunity to experience all the ups and downs of life, school and tennis with seven other amazing girls who I have come to call my second family.
USTA.com: You've had success at every level of tennis, from juniors to college to playing at the pro level. What would you say is the highlight of your career so far?
Ester Goldfeld: Up until I got to college, the biggest highlight of my career was getting to the quarterfinals of the junior Australian Open. However, the success that my team and I have had these past three years has presented me with new big highlights. Winning ACCs my freshman year and recently winning the ITA Indoor Championships have definitely become the biggest highlights of my career.
USTA.com: What goals do you have for yourself and for your team this season?
Ester Goldfeld: First and foremost, our goal is to stay healthy. We want to keep playing with the same intensity and fight that we have been this season so that we can do well at ACCs and NCAAs. As for myself, I just want to be able to help my team out in the best way that I can.
USTA.com: Looking ahead a bit, have you thought about what you will do after graduating?
Ester Goldfeld: I want to take a year off and probably do some research while applying for medical schools.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Ester Goldfeld: Practice is where everything begins. You have to practice with a purpose if you want to play with a purpose. If you apply yourself in practice, good things will come.