Noah Rubin had his chances on Thursday in the second round of the U.S. Open qualifying tournament. But he failed to convert those opportunities into a victory.
Rubin, of Merrick, lost, 6-4, 7-6 (6) to the qualifier's third seed, Guido Pella of Argentina, on Court 11 at the National Tennis Center before a hometown crowd that chanted his name.
After being broken early, Rubin went up 4-2 in the first set before Pella went on a roll. After falling behind 5-2 in the second set, Rubin rallied to send it to a tiebreak. He was up 4-1 before Pella came back.
"I thought I played OK, just a few too many unforced errors and didn't capitalize on being up 4-1 in the tiebreaker," Rubin said. "Disappointing, but I appreciate all the support."
Last year Rubin earned a wild card into the main draw at the Open after his victory in the USTA boys 18 national championship. That victory followed one in the boys juniors at Wimbledon. He spent a year at Wake Forest, where he lost in the final of the NCAA Tournament, then turned pro in June. He was given a wild card into the Open qualifier.
"I think this is an incredible learning experience," said his father and coach Eric Rubin. "It's always back to the drawing board, always back to hard work. The difference between this year and last year is tremendous. His fitness level, his thoughts, his demeanor and a continuation of the journey to improve."
Generously described as 5-10, Rubin, 19, displayed an improved serve -- including a few aces -- and as usual he hustled around the court, including a point in the first set when Pella moved him side to side and front to back before Rubin played a shot Pella couldn't return. He earned roars from the crowd.
Rubin seemed to get a boost from back-to-back points he disputed in the ninth game of the second set. He thought he had won a point with a shot on the line and played the next point thinking he was up 15-0. Then he thought Pella's next serve was out and didn't find out he lost the first point until then. He argued his case with the chair umpire, who took no action, but Rubin went on to break Pella and hold his next serve at love to make the score 5-5.
"There's no question that motivated him, his father said. "The crowd went crazy, he went crazy, which he really doesn't do. But he got emotional at that point. He put his foot on the gas in the tiebreak, he got up, but then he took his foot off, and that was the difference right there."