Jan. 12, 2005 - Two matches. That's how close Joseph Goldstein came from capping off an already incredible run through one of the nation's biggest junior national tennis tournaments.
Competing in the Copper Bowl, hosted by the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, the Catalina Foothills senior nearly played his way through a field of 130 of the country's top 16-year-old tennis players. And where tennis greatness from Tucson natives is not all that uncommon from players who compete year-round in the warm climate, what makes Goldstein's run through the Copper Bowl's quarterfinals unique is the fact that he did it as an unranked player.
Goldstein's remarkable run came to a halt when the senior ran into Kayvon Karimi in the quarterfinals of the boys 16-year-old singles main draw. Karimi, a 15-year-old from Plano, Texas, shut down Goldstein in an early morning match Jan. 5.
"He was probably the best player I ever faced," said Goldstein after his match with Karimi. To say Karimi was his toughest ever competition may be an understatement by the reserved, unassuming Goldstein. Karimi, winner of the 12-year-old bracket of the Copper Bowl just three years prior, went on to win the 16-year-old age division this year after breezing by Goldstein, 6-2, 6-0.
Working in Goldstein's favor, however, is the fact that the Catalina Foothills prodigy had to knock off a top-five seed to reach the quarterfinals, whereas Karimi's toughest opponent before reaching Goldstein in the quarterfinals was the No. 15 seeded Peter Rispoli of Naples, Fla.
The highlight of Goldstein's Cinderella-like run through the field of 32 came at the expense of Jeremy A. Feldman. The Armonk, N.Y., native may have entered the field ranked No. 3 among all 16-year-olds and a heavy favorite to cruise through the bracket, but he left it quite unceremoniously. It took three sets but Goldstein was able to put Feldman away to advance to face the eventual champ, Karimi.
Goldstein finished the tourney with a 4-1 record, having lost just four of his 12 sets. Although he's played in two previous Copper Bowls and a Super Nationals, Goldstein did not earn a win on the national level until this year when he knocked off Casey Fashouer of Arlington, Va., in the first round.
The hard-hitting Goldstein, who relies heavily on his big serve, was one of 917 players competing in the national tourney and just one of a handful of Tucson-area players. Boys and girls age groups ranged from 12 to 18-years-old and were played at various locations all over Tucson and the Northwest.
Catalina Foothills coach Rob Salant likes the natural progression of talent and hard work he sees in Goldstein.
"He's always improving," said Salant of Goldstein's play.
Last year, Goldstein teamed up with his older brother, Brad, to claim third in the state in the Class 4A in boys doubles. Salant is holding out for more than a repeat performance this season from Goldstein. With a strong freshman class expected, including some that will challenge Goldstein for the No. 1 spot, Salant believes the senior will take the Falcons deep into the Class 4A playoffs.
"Hopefully he can lead us to a state title," said the coach, "I think there is a real chance."
It's been 36 years since Catalina Foothills boys squad last won a state title in tennis. Since winning seven team championships in eight years from 1962 through 1969, CFHS has endured a drought of more than three decades. The only individual state champ, Salant has ever had in his program came in 1989 when Juan Gutierrez took home the honor for the Falcons.