Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre won the Wimbledon boys singles title Sunday, the first marquee victory of his career, when he defeated fellow American and longtime friend Stefan Kozlov, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Rubin, 18, was unseeded and had to earn his way into the tournament through qualification. It took him eight matches to claim the championship, but he said that from the outset he believed he could win.
"Nothing said I couldn't be here," said Rubin, who embraced his tearful father, Eric, after the victory. "I believe in my competitiveness, my mental capability and my speed. I don't see why not . . . But I wasn't thinking about this at all. First-round qualies, playing a big server that day, I was thinking I could lose the first round of qualifying. It was just point by point, match by match. Eight matches later, this is where I am."
This was the first all American final at Wimbledon since 1977 (Van Winnitsky defeated Eliot Teltscher), and there were three Americans in the final three. Rubin defeated another American, Harry Taylor Fritz, in the semifinals. Rubin trains at the John McEnroe Academy at Sportime on Randalls Island, where he is coached by Lawrence Kleger. The last American boys winner was Donald Young in 2007.
"We couldn't be happier for Noah, and we are incredibly proud of him," said Patrick McEnroe, the United States Tennis Association's general manager for player development. "To have an all American boys final and three of the four semifinalists be American, as well, is a testament to the dedication and hard work put in by themselves, their coaches and their families."
This was only the second junior event that Rubin had played this year. He has played mostly on the challenger and futures circuits and was ranked No. 539 in the world.
The match was played on Wimbledon's expansive No. 1 court before a large and enthusiastic crowd that seemed to side with Rubin. "I didn't expect the court to be that packed," Rubin said. "I actually thought nobody was going to come out to the match, but that was not the case. They were very enthusiastic to be out there. Kind of got the crowd to be into it a little bit. Just the atmosphere was unbelievable . . . It was almost surreal, but hopefully, [the impact of the victory] will kick in in the next couple of days."
It was an even-handed match with Rubin, at 5-9 and a bit more than 150 pounds not the most physically imposing of players. Kozlov, 16, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, is a bit bigger, but his physical style couldn't overcome Rubin. Rubin's forehand was solid, his serve effective, his speed crucial and his competitive drive a determining factor.
"I didn't expect much coming into these tournaments," Rubin said. "I just wanted to get out there and enjoy myself. It's one of my final junior tournaments, so it's nice to have this under my belt. I'll always remember this time."