Noah Rubin Press Conference
By John Delong
Sometimes Noah Rubin has to pinch himself to make sure it’s all real.
Already this summer, the incoming Wake Forest freshman has won the Wimbledon junior singles title and both the singles and doubles titles at the USTA Boys National 18 and Under Championships in Kalamazoo.
Up next is a spot in the Main Draw at the fourth annual Winston-Salem Open, where he will meet Bradley Klahn in the first round on Sunday night at 7 p.m.
Then comes an exhibition match against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Johnny Mac Tennis Project benefit at New York’s Randall’s Island next Thursday, followed by spots in the Main Draw in both singles and doubles at the US Open.
Talk about exciting. It doesn’t get any better than this for the 18-year-old who has climbed up to No. 1 in the world junior rankings in the process.
“Sometimes I just have to take a step back and enjoy every second because a lot’s coming my way,” Rubin said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon. “Hopefully I can take advantage of it. I want to take it one point at a time and enjoy every aspect of it and it should be good.”
He called the summer whirlwind as “surreal.”
The Wimbledon junior title put Rubin in rare company, along with the likes of Roger Federer in 1998, defending Winston-Salem Open champion Jurgen Melzer in 1999, 2013 WSO runner-up Gael Monfils in 2004, and Grigor Dimitrov in 2008. He’s the first American to win the Wimbledon junior title since another WSO participant, Donald Young, in 2007.
“It’s been a little surreal,” he said. “It was a great tournament at Wimbledon and then Kalamazoo to get me into the Main Draw and then to be here, of course, at my new second home. So it’s been an overall great experience and I’m really enjoying myself.”
Rubin is clearly the most-touted recruit in Wake Forest tennis history, and he may just be the most-touted recruit in any sport going back to basketball’s Chris Paul.
After making the decision to forego turning professional for a year and take in the college experience, he ultimately chose Wake Forest over Virginia. He was impressed throughout the recruiting process by Wake coach Tony Bresky.
“I never really had a thought of college in my head previous to about six months ago,” Rubin said. “I saw the ages of these tennis players 29 and 30 and we thought a year of school would enhance my progress and it would work out. I really felt the trust between Tony and I. I think he has what it takes, and the team has a lot of camaraderie, and it doesn’t hurt that it has an ATP here, but that wasn’t the reason. They were just very professional and took care of business, and I thought it was a good place for me.
“I believe I’m still in a developmental process. I still have a lot to learn. I can still grow as a person and a tennis player, which is why I’m taking my tennis to Wake Forest here. I think Tony and the rest of the crew has what it takes to get me better, so we’ll see how I can progress. But I think I am playing the best tennis of my life right now and that should be good for the next coming weeks.”
It would be hard for Rubin to rank all the highlights that he has been blessed with lately. Each in its own way is super special.
The exhibition with Djokovic will come at Sportime Stadium on Randall’s Island, where Rubin has been a part of the Johnny Mac Tennis Project for the last four years (and well before that, too).
“He’s obviously one of the greats of all time and just a pleasure to be out there with him and an honor to be on the same court with him,” Rubin said of Djokovic. “We’ll enjoy ourselves and it should be good. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
That won’t come until after his match here against Klahn, the 2010 NCAA champion from Stanford who reached a career-high No. 63 earlier this year. Klahn is currently ranked No. 113.
The winner will face two-time WSO champion John Isner in the second round.
“I think it’s a great debut for me and I think I can definitely show everybody what I have,” Rubin said. “He’s a great player. He shows great results. He’s a player inside the Top 100, so we’ll see what happens. But I do think I can match up against some of the best tennis players in the world.”
He said he is feeling no pressure.
“I was a little under the radar before Wimbledon and so it adds a little spotlight, some wild cards come with that,” he said. “But besides that, it just adds more support. Especially toward American tennis, since we’re a little desperate at the moment. So we’ll see what we can do.”