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Merrick’s Noah Rubin set to play in first round at Australian Open

Noah Rubin with the forehand during his qualifying

Noah Rubin with the forehand during his qualifying match with Argentina's Guido Pella on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Noah Rubin gets to step onto one of the biggest stages in tennis again Monday when on opening day of the Australian Open he plays his first-round match against Benoit Paire of France.

In Melbourne he’s halfway around the world from his Merrick home, and exactly where he wants to be at this stage of a very young career. The 19-year-old will be making his second appearance in a Grand Slam, the first coming in 2014 when as the U.S. boys 18 national champion he earned a wildcard entry into the U.S. Open and lost in the first round.

Back then he was still an amateur and went on to play a year at Wake Forest before turning professional. He’s earned his way into the Australian via the wildcard route as well, but this time it was as an American professional earning the most points in a three-event challenger series last fall. That included his first pro victory in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He’s been in Australia for two weeks now getting acclimated and playing competitively, losing in the second round of a challenger event. Belief in himself has always been his biggest asset and he comes into Melbourne with unwavering confidence.

“I believe it’s easy to say that my game is night and day,” Rubin said. “I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life and believe that the consistency of my highest level has improved drastically. I’m excited to prove how far I have come.”

Rubin enjoyed an outstanding summer of results in 2014, winning the Wimbledon boys, the U.S. boys, getting into the U.S. Open then playing at Wake Forest where he lost in the final of the NCAA tournament in 2015. That all looks good on the resume, but it’s all as an amateur. Now he’s on the professional tour and trying to grind out a place for himself in the highest echelon of the ATP Tour. He’s ranked 335 in the world going into the Australian and will have to be content with playing challenger events and trying to qualify for top-tier tournaments until he can get his ranking into double digits where automatic entry is guaranteed.

“As far as a being a professional, I have truly learned the meaning of the word and how vital it is to my game. When I combine physical and mental training with great nutrition and hard work on the court, it has quickly helped my progress as a player and person.”

Just how far he’s come will be tested against the veteran Paire, the Australian’s 17th seed who at 6-5 towers over the 5-9 Rubin. Rubin will need to play his best defense and serve effectively to have a chance.

“I’m excited. I believe our games match up well,” said Rubin. “He is an excellent player but I am ready to prove what I am capable of.”

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