By Betsy Tanenbaum
Focused and determined, he stands behind the baseline. Suddenly, adrenaline courses through his body as he smashes his first serve over the net. Ace. Senior Daniel Grunberger immediately sets the tone of the tennis match.
Grunberger began playing tennis at the age of five. With a racket and ball in hand, daily visits to the park with his father became routine. Even at eight, it was clear that he was the “king of the court.” Although he began playing tennis in local tournaments at the age of twelve, it wasn’t until Grunberger turned fourteen that tournaments became a fixture in his weekend schedule.
“At that time, I began making big improvements in my game. I started playing and winning a lot more,” said Grunberger. Since then, he has participated in approximately 25 tournaments and has continued to take on the best competition both locally and nationally. Over the next few months, he will be participating in a New York State tournament and national tournaments in Virginia and Arizona.
The secret to Grunberger’s success is best stated by his coach Viktor Marinkovic, who teaches at Robbie Wagner’s Tournament Training Center in Glen Cove. Coach Marinkovic feels that “Daniel’s greatest strength is his mental focus, his incredible desire to win, and his ability to perform under pressure.” Grunberger’s successes have not come easily, as he spends two to four hours a day, six days a week practicing.
Though always focused and committed to winning, Grunberger has always had time for his teammates. According to his friend, senior Zachary Lowell, “Grunberger has helped pinpoint my weaknesses and has shared his playing strategies with me.”
Grunberger’s success has not gone unnoticed. He has won multiple awards on the state and national level, including Sectionals and National Opens.
Grunberger recalls a match this past July, at the Clay Court Super National in Florida. “It was nearly 100 degrees and the match spanned three and a half hours,” Grunberger said. “I was playing one of the top players from Texas, and towards the end of the match, I started to cramp up.” Despite a lower tournament seeding and aching muscles, he was able to pull out a victory, one that he places at the top of his list.
Over the last several months, Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University actively recruited Grunberger. Many of the coaches at these universities had seen Grunberger play and wanted to add his talent to their 2014-2015 roster. After visiting each school and sitting down with his parents, he decided that Columbia University was the way to go. His decision was based on Columbia’s proximity to home, his familiarity with a number of players already on the team, and Columbia’s top rank in the Ivy League.
Grunberger’s ultimate goal is to have a successful college career and to be good enough to play on the pro circuit. According to Coach Marinkovic, “Daniel has all the ingredients to be a successful player. Going forward, Daniel needs to continue training hard, keep distractions to a minimum, and strengthen the weaknesses in his game.”