GETTING TO KNOW:
Ashley Marshall | August 9, 2018
Noah Rubin is having the best year of his professional career in 2018, winning two tournaments and climbing to a personal-best in the rankings. USTA.com spoke with the Long Island native about his thoughts on the season, playing tennis with his father and grandfather, his passion for photography and returning home to New York for the US Open.
USTA.com: How does it feel reaching a new career-high ranking of No. 139?
Noah Rubin: It’s nice. Still not where I want to be quite yet, but I’m just happy to be healthy. I think that’s the No. 1 thing for me. This is the longest I’ve played consistently without injury, knock on wood right now, so I’m just enjoying that. I think the ranking was bound to come up with me. I was hoping it would, and now that it has, it’s definitely exciting.
USTA.com: Is there anything specific you’ve been doing to look after your body to make sure you can stay as healthy as possible?
Noah Rubin: I want to say yes, but there isn’t much.
Sadly, the things that stopped me from playing were freak injuries. I take very good care of my body, and hopefully other people would attest to the fact that I am professional on and off the court. I really do everything I can. They really were just freak injuries. I’m trying to be more conscious and aware of things like that, but there’s really not much I can do.
USTA.com: Were they both off-court injuries?
Noah Rubin: The first one [in 2016], I was just jogging outside, and I went in between two pieces of concrete and went over really quick. I didn’t think it was a big deal, and obviously it was. Then last year, I ran for a drop shot in Houston at the ATP [event], and the courts weren’t up to par, and I fell right on my wrist. Just two quick ones that stopped me from playing for five or six months.
USTA.com: With your ranking where it is now, does that prove to yourself that if you can stay healthy, you can get to where you want to be?
Noah Rubin: Yeah, I mean at this moment, I’m not focused on ranking too much. I’m focused on being healthy, but with the consistency and the effort I am putting in, it just follows, and that’s a testament to my hard work. It’s good to see it moving up every month, every week, but I feel like if you’re putting in the time and effort and that’s where it deserves to be, it will move on its own, and you don’t need to focus on it.
USTA.com: Can you speak to that effort you’re putting in and how you would evaluate the season you’re having so far?
Noah Rubin: I think [coach] Carlos Benatzky and my trainer Brent Salazar, I think they can both speak to the fact that I’ve put in a lot of time in Orlando. They know Florida isn’t one of my favorite places but that I’ve spent a lot of time down here and I’m making sure I’m putting in the work on the road and doing everything I possibly can to put myself in the best shape possible, mentally and physically, and I think it has shown. There’s a lot of room for progress, but it’s definitely moving toward the right direction, and I’m excited about it.
USTA.com: Winning the hard-court title in New Caledonia in January, then winning the title in Tallahassee in April on clay, what does that say about your progress that you’re winning tournaments on different surfaces?
Noah Rubin: I had a little bit of a lapse midway through in March and some tough losses to highly ranked players, but we evaluated that and kept pushing. I think it shows that my athleticism translates to different surfaces. I had a tough loss to John [Isner] on the clay [at Roland Garros], and he’s a tough person to play on any surface, but I still found some success at the Geneva Open, which is a 250, and obviously Tallahassee. It’s funny how it works. I played a Futures [level tournament] at the beginning of the clay-court season, now I’m playing some consistent tennis on the ATP Tour.
USTA.com: Beating Isner at the Citi Open after losing to him in Paris, how much confidence does that give you, knowing you can beat a Top-10 player when you’re on your game?
Noah Rubin: I think there’s not many players that can play my game. I think I have the ability to not only use my feet defensively but also offensively. I think I have a pretty quick arm, and my serve can get up there. Even though people know I’m not the tallest guy on tour, I think I can definitely rocket in a few, so this win solidifies that. Whether John was playing his best tennis that day or not is, for me, at least, pretty irrelevant because it gave me that little extra confidence to keep pushing.
USTA.com: Is there anything specific you’re working on with Carlos to take your game to the next level?
Noah Rubin: His biggest thing that I’ve taken to heart is controlling the things you can control. We’ve done a good job with it lately, but there’s always room to improve. The idea is that tennis is such a tough sport and there are so many little things that can go wrong and so many things out of your control on a daily basis. If you can control the things you can control and do the things you need to do on a daily basis, you line yourself up for a successful career and the best chance of success.
USTA.com: How much would you say you’ve changed over the past three or four years since you played at Wake Forest and had that run in the NCAA championship?
Noah Rubin: I think my game has developed leaps and bounds. I think my forehand has got to a place where it’s truly a weapon, and my backhand is still solid. Physically, I’ve grown tremendously, and I feel like I have an understanding of what it means to be a professional tennis player and what it takes. I think that every year has improved, regardless of injury, and that I’ve found a way to progress and learn and develop and give myself the best chance to play my best tennis for another 12 years. That’s something I’m learning each and every year – how can I set myself up for success.
USTA.com: Can you take me back to those early memories of playing tennis with your father and your family and how that love for tennis developed?
Noah Rubin: My grandfather, my dad’s father, started it off back in the day – started reading up on it and teaching my father. I have a picture on Instagram of me with my father and my grandfather. We all play once in a while, and it’s just an incredible feeling to get three generations out there. It’s such a family experience. My sister, who maybe didn’t love it as much, she still had incredible memories and got into a better school because of tennis. And my mom has always been involved. It’s something that is a love, regardless of professional tennis. My father to this day says, “Noah, the day you hate playing, just walk off the court. You don’t have to do this.” He wants me to love it and be out there every day and enjoying the fact that I play tennis for a living. I’m very fortunate.
USTA.com: How’s your grandfather’s game?
Noah Rubin: Pretty incredible. For someone who is 85 years old, he still plays five days a week. It’s pretty insane. He lives where my father grew up in Bayside, Queens.
USTA.com: Looking at your childhood, how did the experiences of training at the McEnroe Academy, playing Les Petites As, winning the juniors at Wimbledon, help shape you into the player you are today?
Noah Rubin: It’s tough. I can’t take away anything from Junior Wimbledon. It was something that was incredible, and I think it meant more for me because it meant so much for my father and how much it meant to him for putting all the effort and work in, that he was there to witness that and be a part of that. But there are so many little moments and memories that made me the person I am and allowed me to play tennis. There’s so much that goes into making a tennis player, and there’s no room for error. It takes a lot of hands and a lot of work. Wimbledon was great, and I remember it every day, but there’s so much that goes into it, and you really have to enjoy the process.
USTA.com: Away from the court, I know you like photography. Where does that passion come from?
Noah Rubin: My family tried to culture me since Day 1. I was going to museums every weekend in New York City, and my father and mom were incredible travelers. I’m going to these incredible places and seeing these unique things. I thought that I have to photograph them and remember them and show them off. I had a little bit of a knack for it, just really enjoyed sharing the memories with friends and family, and I think it just went from there. I have ideas in the making with a charity and selling the works and getting other photographs and artists into it, but it started off small and became a huge passion of mine. It allows me to escape the tennis world while using tennis as the reason I’m here.
One of the trips that stood out was my father took me to Tanzania for about 10 days, and we tented in the Serengeti. Those were some of my most memorable pictures. It wasn’t even my best camera at the time, so they’re not as crystal clear as I’d like them to be, but I’m 10 feet away from lions, cheetahs, jaguars, rhinos. I took a hot-air balloon ride at 4:30 in the morning. Just some incredible pictures I’ll always remember.
USTA.com: Could you see a situation 20 years from now where you turn this passion into a second career after tennis?
Noah Rubin: Yeah, I’ve always dreamed of a gallery. My father’s dream was to have his own gallery. Whether it’s photojournalism or just having a gallery of my own that can portray my life, almost an autobiography, through pictures, I think this could be something that I stay with forever.
USTA.com: The US Open is right around the corner. How excited are you to return to New York?
Noah Rubin: I think this is actually one of the first years I am excited. It’s been tricky the past couple years. Last year, I was barely able to play and wasn’t nearly close to my form. The year before that, it was one of my first tournaments back. There was a lot of anxiety, and it’s overwhelming there in front of all my family and friends. But I think I’m in a good place with my tennis game and what I need to do to put myself in the best place mentally to play a tournament of this level in my back yard.
I used to go to the US Open all the time, at least one day a year plus qualifying. I remember going to the top of Arthur Ashe [Stadium] and being like, ‘This is where I need to be.’ Ever since my first main draw, I knew it was an incredible opportunity, but I haven’t fully done as well as I can to enjoy the moment and play my tennis.
USTA.com: What do you remember about your main-draw debut against Federico Delbonis in 2014?
Noah Rubin: I remember being extremely nervous and maybe I didn’t believe that my tennis game was at the level to compete with these guys. They put me on a smaller court, and I had rows and rows of people watching, standing there. It hit me hard. All the experiences I’ve had under my belt now in different situations, I think, has allowed me to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I think this is going to be one of my bigger years, and I’m excited.