For about as long as he can remember, Noah Rubin has wanted to be a professional tennis player. From the public courts of the South Shore, to the grass courts of Wimbledon, to the hardcourts of the National Tennis Center, to the collegiate courts of Wake Forest University, Rubin pursued his goal with dogged determination and demonstrable skill.
And now, after an eventful freshman year at Wake Forest, Rubin, the 19-year-old from Merrick, is what he always wanted to be: a pro, a decision he made the first part of June.
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His last year has been exciting and fulfilling. Last July he won the Wimbledon junior title. He took the USTA boys championship in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in August, which earned him a wild-card entry into the U.S. Open main draw (he lost in the first round). Then he went to Winston Salem, North Carolina, to enroll at Wake Forest, where he became the most successful player in school history, losing in the final of the NCAA championship. He was selected by the USTA to participate in a tennis program at the White House as part of the annual Easter event in April, and he hit balls with President Barack Obama.
"I've been thinking about it for the whole year," Rubin said. "I'm really confident with my game right now. I just feel it's where I am. Everybody I've competed against, beaten and they have gotten on tour, I just miss that so much. It's where I think I should be and I couldn't wait any longer."
His father, Eric, who dangled a tennis ball over Noah's crib when he was a baby, is confident his son is in the right place.
"I can't be any more sure about anything than saying that he has worked for this his whole life and is absolutely committed to being the best he can be," said his father, who is also his lifelong coach. "He did the year [at college] and we judged it by that. He had an incredible experience. He went in and people expected a lot of him and he really delivered.
"He went in as Wimbledon junior champion and USTA junior champion and he lived up to those sorts of expectations. He loved the team and the whole experience there, but there wasn't a moment he didn't dream of being back out on the tour, grinding it out. In the light of the fact that everyone expected him to be perfect, he was pretty perfect."
Rubin has been part of the John McEnroe Academy at Sportime on Randalls Island and its director, Lawrence Kleger, has been his co-coach since the age of 7.
"Looking back at his career, every time he reaches a new level he figures out that level and he dominates the level," Kleger said. "Whether it be junior Wimbledon or Kalamazoo or the NCAAs . . . he achieved about everything he can achieve at that level, so this is a logical step."