Considering his pingpong lineage and professional tennis experience, Paul Goldstein may be a strong favorite to capture the TopSpin San Francisco crown.
The pingpong tournament and charity event benefiting local educational foundations on Wednesday will feature 96 competitors playing three hours of intense pingpong at San Francisco’s Terra Gallery.
Goldstein hopes to survive the slam of NBA Hall of Famer and TopSpin host committee member Chris Mullin, the spin of former A’s VP and 49ers COO Andy Dolich and other table tricks tossed his way from the roster of competitors, comprising primarily executives from local companies.
“We’ve had several conference calls to discuss strategy,” Goldstein said, referring to his father, Clark Goldstein, the 1958 U.S. Open Table Tennis boys’ champion. “Just like tennis, make them play one more ball, counter-punch; that’s my approach.”
For the past eight years, the younger Goldstein and his wife, Abbie, have lived in San Francisco’s Noe Valley after meeting as students at Stanford. In 1998, his senior year, Goldstein led the Cardinal tennis team to a 28-0 season.
A 10-year professional tennis career followed. Goldstein ranked as high as No. 58 in the world in 2006, yet he downplays his successes as a pro. The humble and humorous Goldstein considers his 26 titles on the USTA pro circuit as “bittersweet,” comparing himself to Crash Davis from “Bull Durham” fame, a stellar career minor leaguer who never found success on the big stage.
Goldstein retired from the pro circuit in 2008 and put his human biology degree to work as an account manager for Bloom Energy, a Sunnyvale-based clean energy company.
Goldstein, 35, laughs as he recalls his only other “event championship” involving the game of pingpong.
“We had a parlor games tournament for some of the tennis players in Las Vegas in 2004 or ’05, a combination of pingpong, fussball and air hockey,” Goldstein said. “I won the gold prize.”
At Wednesday’s TopSpin tournament, Goldstein will be vying for gold, this time an EA Sports “Golden Paddle” to be awarded to the last player standing.
Of more significance to Goldstein than walking away with the TopSpin San Francisco title is the cause that will be championed. The monies raised will support three local educational programs.
“In all seriousness, I wouldn’t be involved if I wasn’t excited about the cause and the opportunity to be involved,” said Goldstein, whose older daughter, Sadie, 4, will be joining the ranks of San Francisco’s schoolchildren next year.
TopSpin San Francisco
WHEN: Wednesday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison St., S.F.
BENEFITS: Breakthrough Collaborative, KIPP: Bay Area Schools, Potrero Residents Education Fund
ACTIVITIES: Celebrity DJ, silent auction and open bar