George Goldhoff is a 27-year-old professional tennis player from the United States. George played College tennis for the University of Texas for four years and graduated in 2018. He had career-high ITA rankings of #8 in singles and #24 in doubles and made the Quarterfinals at the NCAA team tournament twice. George is currently ranked #630 on the ATP doubles with a career-high ranking of #357. He currently holds 9 ITF Doubles titles.
- What was life like growing up, and how was tennis introduced to you?
I started playing tennis with my dad. We would watch tennis videos and go out and practice together on a ball machine. I played a lot of different sports growing up. When I was 13 or 14 years old, tennis was just an activity to me and I moved to the John Newcomb tennis academy to go all in. Within 6 months I really made some progress and went from having no national ranking to playing national tournaments. When I was 16 years old I moved to California to further develop my game. It was amazing because I felt like I was going to have tennis taken away from me at 13 or 14, and eventually earned a scholarship to the University of Texas.
- How difficult was it to move from state to state growing up?
I lived in New York, Nevada, Mississippi, and Tennessee before I moved to Texas to take tennis seriously my freshman year of highschool. Not a lot of people played tennis where I lived in Mississippi so we thought it was best to go to an academy in Texas. Later on, in high school, I moved out to California to take my game to another level. It was difficult because I was the new kid anywhere I went and I was away from my family. However, I was lucky to make amazing friends wherever I went. As strange as it sounds at that age my goal was to work as hard as I could on the court because I knew I started taking the sport seriously later than most.
- What led you to commit to Texas and play college tennis there?
Texas checked all of the boxes I was looking for. I wanted to be a part of a large campus and student population where I would be thrown into a new environment again. I was familiar with Austin and really got along well with the team. I only took one visit and loved it. I ended up committing three days later. I had 3 more visits lined up and did not even take them. The University of Texas ended up being an amazing school for me.
- Did college tennis grow your love for the sport?
I felt like I had an advantage in college. I did not start training hard till I was 14, so I never felt burnt out. When I began college I had trouble understanding the team aspect of college tennis. I felt like my teammates were my competitors and once I matured and figured out how to be a team player, the highs were so much higher and I enjoyed college tennis so much more. It is super special to be a part of the team environment and nothing compares. My love for the game definitely grew more.
- What was your most memorable moment about college tennis?
Before the 2016 spring season started we sat down and talked about our maximum reach goal. The year before we had an unbelievable team and I felt like we came up short in the round of 16 at NCAA’s. So we tried to reach that round this year and we felt that if we could do as well as the super team we had last year that would be good. We ended up reaching the round of 16. I ended up clinching the match against Texas A&M in the round of 32. As a team all things led to that moment, it was a really cool moment. It was a real team effort.
- What was your toughest moment during your college tennis experience?
The toughest obstacle I had to deal with was my hip injury. At the time I thought I had a good ranking to compete for an All-American Spot and ended up being out for the whole fall season my senior year. I had good momentum going into the season and then I tore my labrum at the worst time possible. I could have taken a shot for the pain in the fall and if I had surgery that would have taken me out longer. I had physical therapy and everything I could for a month and a half. Having the feeling of potentially not playing another college match again is tough. When I played my first match back I broke down in tears after I won. Everyone was so confused because I had won but it was such a crazy moment emotionally for me because I had no idea I would be able to compete again.
- After graduating from Texas you went on to play professionally. Was this something you knew you always wanted to do?
I graduated in 2018 and towards the end of the year I knew I wanted to play professionally but I was not fit enough to go out there and play yet. I was teaching in California so I could put myself through physical therapy. My body was banged up, and I knew if I wanted to play professionally I would have to play 30 weeks out of the year. I started preparing to go pro in January of 2019.
- What was your biggest challenge upon graduation?
In December 2018 I had the opportunity to go to the training center in Carson. I had a solid start in 2019 and continued that success through the first 4-5 months. As you start to progress you realize that it is a big financial investment. There’s a different type of pressure, if you do not make the semifinals of futures you are losing money. So I had to learn how to play and not put that pressure on myself. Halfway through the 2019 season I decided to play doubles much more and won a few more titles. At the beginning of 2020, I started to play again but I was unsure how I would make money due to covid so I started teaching tennis. During the heart of the pandemic, I was still able to be on court but in a different capacity. In August 2020 I accepted the role as a Volunteer Assistant Coach while teaching tennis and realized I wanted to give going pro another shot.
- You’ve played more tournaments this year than you have in 2021 or 2020. Are you planning on playing a full schedule in 2023?
I did not have a training block once Baylor finished their NCAA’s. I immediately started playing tournaments and had some success. I tweaked my elbow in Columbus, GA due to my body not being used to competing. Now, I am training in Dallas and am trying to get healthy so I can compete more. I need to get healthy enough to be able to play a full schedule in 2023.
- Do you aspire to coach at the collegiate level as a career after your pro career?
I see myself wanting to pursue collegiate coaching when I am done playing but I am also open to teaching junior tennis outside of college. College coaching is a big commitment and it has to be the right situation. Nothing compares to college tennis. It is so exciting and there is nothing like it. It will have to be a decision that is best for my family down the road.
- What is one piece of advice you would give a college player thinking about going professional after graduation?
You have to look at it through a certain lens. If you look at it as a career, in terms of potential opportunities you have to constantly develop your skills and make changes. You have to take it as seriously as you can. If you do not have serious financial support you have a small window so attack it full force.