Noah Rubin of Merrick, a fledging pro trying to make his way in the highly competitive tennis world, came up just short of qualifying for the U.S. Open Friday.
Facing Russian Karen Khachanov in the third and final round of the Open’s qualifying tournament, Rubin lost a gut wrencher, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
The official seating capacity of Court 11 is 1,704, and it was overflowing with supporters who hooted and hollered when Rubin fought back to even the match by winning the second set.
After he failed to convert two set points on Khachanov’s serve in the ninth game of the second, he rallied from 15-40 down on his serve in the 10th game to send the match to the deciding third set.
After being broken in the sixth game, he broke Khachanov in the ninth, but then lost his serve and the match in the 10th game.
“When Noah kept calm and played with controlled aggression, he was in command of the match,” said his father and coach Eric. “When he backed off or got too aggressive, that’s when you saw the cracks. I really think there is a tremendous difference now between last season and this one, and it’s very encouraging.”
Rubin, 20, is ranked 194 and was the 2014 Wimbledon and U.S. Boys Junior champion. After a year at Wake Forest, he set out on tour in 2015 and has played mostly at the challenger level. He has a record of 2-4 in ATP events this season and was hampered by an ankle injury this summer. The highlight of the year was beating Benoit Paire, the 32nd seed at the U.S. Open, in the first round of the Australian Open.
“After the injury, I was happy to get out here, win a couple of matches, get back into the game,” said Rubin. “It was disappointing to lose, I had my chances, but now it’s time to move on and try to get better.”