Noah Rubin waves to the crowd after defeating Mackenzie McDonald...

Noah Rubin waves to the crowd after defeating Mackenzie McDonald during the first round of qualifiers at the New York Open at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 9. Credit: Errol Anderson

Noah Rubin has battled to find traction as a professional tennis player, but his efforts off the court have earned him some worldwide recognition.

The prestigious French sporting newspaper L’Equipe recently named him as one of the 20 people “who matter most” in the world of tennis, a list with Roger Federer and Serena Williams at the top. The paper cited his Behind The Racquet website and Instagram account, which he created to give players a voice and the freedom to express themselves.

"As tennis players we don’t get trophies too many times, but this was almost like a trophy for everything I’ve done,” said Rubin, the 24-year-old from Rockville Centre who turned pro in 2015. “It was cool, was very, very cool to be recognized for something. I didn’t feel like I deserved that yet. To see my name up there with some of these other guys was remarkable.”

Rubin lists three key reasons why he created Behind The Racquet:

“Wanting to highlight some of the issues, not only in professional sports, but specifically tennis. To help people understand it’s not as glamorous as one might think.

“To start the conversation about mental health. To break the toxic masculinity. In such a competitive sport like tennis have people start talking about it.

“I thought tennis was dying out and needed a revival. I was looking at what tennis does extremely poorly. It isn’t a team sport so you can’t get behind a team. You have to get behind individuals and to get behind individuals you have to know them. I don’t think people know tennis players very well because they are not marketed as people very much. People don’t know who they really are. I wanted to help fans relate to players on a deeper basis.”

After he found out about the honor he tweeted: “It’s not to brag but shows the effort my team and I give to tennis. I don’t feel worthy but promise to keep working until I do . . . and long past that.”

To which Australian pro Nick Kyrgios responded with this tweet:

“Why would you not feel worthy regardless of making this list or not? You do great work. You are a great tennis player.”

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