Is Noah Rubin Caput?

After qualifying for the Australian Open in January of 2017 and winning his first round match against no. 113 Bjorn Frantangelo, Noah Rubin, 21, of Long Island, New York, didn’t beat another player ranked inside the top 150 and only beat one player, Sam Groth, ranked inside the top 200. He suffered a wrist injury that kept him out from April to August, but he was a first round loser to Tobias Kamke in the US Open Qualis and then proceeded to only reach one semis and one quarters in eight Challenger events he played in Australia and the US after the Open. Rubin finished the year ranked no. 201.

At 5-9, 150-lbs, Rubin like Mckenzie McDonald, who won the NCAA singles while Rubin fell a match short in his freshman year at Wake Forest, is always fighting an uphill battle when it comes to power and service prowess. But we saw in 2017, other mighty mites like Diego Schwartzman, 5-7 and no. 26 and Damir Dzumhur, 5-9 and no. 30, rise up in the rankings despite their size impingement.

I personally like Rubin. What I’ve seen of him on the court, his behavior and mental and attitudinal approach is exemplary. But he doesn’t really have a weapon besides his speed and you wonder if this first New York native since Pat McEnroe to show big potential really has a future on the ATP Tour. I’m very curious to see how as he turns 22 in February, Rubin responds to a very down year in 2017 after his strong showing at the Australian Open. 1234603_1413226802227158_407415117_n

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  • JG · December 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Whats up with this new tournament on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum in February (a 250 event) they are hyping Rubin as the native Long Islander.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Yes, the Long Island event comes from Memphis which is now no longer. So there’s not a second event in New York to compliment the Open. And yes, Rubin is a native Long Islander as far as I know.This event takes place right before Delray Beach and after the Aussie O. Not too many big names playing in it. They’re advertising Izzie, Kei and the Bryan Bros besides Rubin.

    They’re kicking it off with a mixed doubles match with Blake, Mac, Sloane and Bouchard. That’s scheduled for Monday night of the week. Why do they do that? It’s like who cares about that match?! Put Johnny Mac against Sloane or Bouchard and I’d make a journey out to the Isle of Long to see that match, but the MXD unless you’re Scoop, is a yawner.

    Have you heard of this 18 yr old Canadian female player, Charlotte Robillard-Millette? I just U-Tubed her and this young woman needs some help on her service motion.

  • catherine · December 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Hartt should know more about Charlotte, Dan. And maybe there’s a coaching job for you. Or Spadea :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Very good player, incredible footspeed and defense, has played close with forces like Khachanov, but he’s been injured this year and came back early and hurt the wrist again. Tough luck this year. It’s silly to write off Rubin already, plenty of time to Victor Estrella his way into the top 50.

  • Hartt · December 5, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Dan, am curious why you were watching Charlotte Robillard-Millette. She had considerable success early in her junior career, but has kind of disappeared lately. She won in doubles at age 14 and in singles at 15. In 2013 she won the U16 Orange Bowl. Her top rank was No. 4 (combined singles and doubles). But her WTA ranking is No. 598 and her career high was No. 532 last Sept. Catherine turns 19 in January.

    I don’t think Charlotte was even chosen for the last Fed Cup tie. She has been surpassed by 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu, who is in the top 200 and Katherine Sebov, who is in the top 300. (And both Abanda and Zhao, who are older than Charlotte, are in the top 200.)

    I have been following Andreescu rather than Robillard-Millette, so was not aware of why Charlotte’s results have been relatively poor. Your comment on her serve may be part of the answer.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Char Robillard is the girlfriend of Felix, or former gf. Not sure. I snapped a pic of them walking together at Eddie Herr a couple of years ago. You see that happen a lot in juniors with girls, they have big success then fade. It’s just the normal peaks and valleys of the game. I remember Barbora Strycova and Kirsten Flipkens were top ranked juniors and they struggled for years to make it. Then they did eventually. Tamaryn Hendler is another who has struggled in WTA, I saw her taking some pointers from Ellis Ferreira on Longboat Key public hard courts about four years ago and she then stopped playing for at least two years but then I saw her name again this year in ITFs, still trying.

  • Hartt · December 5, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Yes, I have seen pics of Felix and Charlotte together, but not recently, so don’t know if they are still together. They would not be at the same tourneys so, like so many couples who are both athletes, it would be hard for then to see each other. But they were a cute couple.

  • dan markowitz · December 5, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Rubin’s short career has been marred by a lot of conflict. There was his parents supposedly going into amazing debt funding his tennis and then getting divorced. There were injuries last year. I was talking to Fritz Buehning just now about my son and how I string his racquets since he was 9 with poly strings and he thinks they’re the reason so many young players have wrist injuries these days. Kathleen Horvath’s son was out two years and he’s just a teen with a spine fracture.

    So Rubin has a lot to overcome. And he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy like Estrella Burgos who’d keep plugging away into his 30’s until he had a breakthrough. He obviously doesn’t have a college degree, but he seems very smart and unlike ay a Kozlov who I don’t know, but I’d imagine he’s a lifer, I think Rubin might quit and try something new if he didn’t break into the top 100 in the next couple of years. As Spadea said, no one wants to play pro tennis and lose money.

  • catherine · December 6, 2017 at 1:32 am

    More coaching news – Sascha Bajin is coaching Naomi Osaka – I think this may be his first purely coaching job so will be interesting to see how it works out.

  • catherine · December 6, 2017 at 1:56 am

    Just saw a recent pic of Serena on a tennis court – she has, understandably, a bit of weight to drop and I can’t see her at AO. She won’t take risks with her overall health.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2017 at 7:27 am

    John McEnroe has backed off publicly supporting Rubin which does not look good. Rubin was the crown jewel of the JMTA but you would hardly know it as JMac never talks about him or goes out to support him. Maybe they had a falling out? I saw Kathleen Horvath’s son play about give years ago – his name is RJ Fresen. We played different age groups at a tourney in Nutley NJ on red clay, he was in Open though he was 12 and I played and won the 35s. I was very impressed by Fresen and noted in an article that he looked just as great at 12 as did Nadal and Gasquet, if not better. I have often wondered how that kid is doing so it’s very sad to hear that he had two years of injury problems. That kid was/is a special talent. Hope he can get back to the grindstone.

  • Joe Blow · December 6, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Mac saw Rubin’s ceiling, and distanced himself. Hasn’t developed a solid touring pro yet. I hope all those under privileged kids are taking advantage of the Macs club. I think opening the sport to inner city kids was their sell to the public.
    Only hear about Tennis stars stopping by for a hit and photo session, not much about top Juniors on the National level, not ETA kids

  • scoopmalinowski · December 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Read Wilanders ceiling on Sampras in 89 in my Facing Sampras excerpt. Ask Dan about Stan Smiths ceiling on Spadea. Nobody knows Rubins ceiling.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 6, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I was talking to Mac last month about the top American young players and you’re right he didn’t mention Rubin. He mentioned Tiafoe and said the best of the bunch was Donaldson, but he said the problem is that besides Tiafoe, none of the American young players were very good athletes, not when you compare them to Djkovic, Nadal and Fed.

  • Thomas Tung · December 6, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Rubin, in the match I saw last year at the US Open, lacked putaway firepower against the likes of Khachanov. As mentioned earlier, he has great wheels, and a determined defensive mentality — but he doesn’t take the ball early on the baseline (as per the shorter/smaller David Ferrer).

    More importantly, he (so far) hasn’t developed the kind of court sense/tactical understanding that Goffin, Schwartzman, Dzumhur, etc. have (all 3 would be fantastic tennis coaches, if they so wanted to be).

    He may never have the firepower, but Noah can take a page (preferably more!) out of G/S/D and make major improvements in his game.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    I’m sure Goffin, Schwartzman, Rochus, Nishioka, Nishikori, Ferrer, Dzumhur, etc, were written off early in their careers when they endured struggle periods. Just like Rubin is now. Not one of these players won a junior singles major like Rubin did. Some pundits just need to be patient.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 6, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Harry is becoming the new Roddick with all the coaching changes. Today he named Iron Mike Russell as his new coach taking over for Sanguinetti and Luckasson. I like Iron Mike. He might be able to maximize Harry’s budding talents, but first he had the Aussie Doyle, then someone else and then the last two. Glad his father is out of the picture. Very hard to break through for guys like Rubin when they don’t have a coach working with him full-time. I wonder if he still works with Lawrence Kleger.

    Here’s the answer:

    He currently trains in Orlando with the USTA with his coaches Stanford Boster and Carlos Benatzsky.

    “My dad coached me how to play and still helps. Lawrence Kleger from Sportime coached me from 7 years old to 20. Now i work with Stanford Boster and Carlos Benatzky from USTA.”

    Seems like Rubin is aiming for the long run:

    “The advice i have for young players is to enjoy it. the only way you will push through tough times in the sport is when you truly love it.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Smart move by Harrison, now he finally has a coach who played most of the guys he’s playing now. I can see Russell becoming a very successful coach. He had some great wins in his career, probably beating Hewitt in Memphis was the best win he ever had. Russell told me later it was a pretty special win because he “had a history with Hewitt” though he would not elaborate any details. I really like this move by Harrison. Interviewed Russell many times and he’s an impressive guy and a major overachiever.

  • jg · December 6, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    What happened to Russell and Tiafoe?

  • Chazz · December 7, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Scoop, I think I read this somewhere, and you’ll be happy to know, that Nishioka gained a wildcard spot in the AO next month.

  • Chazz · December 7, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Correction, Nishioka used his protected ranking (#66) to gain entry into the draw. It will be interesting to see how he’s recovered from the acl injury.

  • Hartt · December 7, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I was so glad to see that Nishioka was entered for the MD of the AO. I hope he is fully recovered, he is such a fun player to watch.

  • Hartt · December 7, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Tennis Canada has several quizzes during this quiet time on the tennis calendar. One was which Canadian tennis player would you be? Felix tweeted: “Actually got myself.”. Mine was that I would be Milos. :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 7, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Nishioka was beating Sock in Miami when the injury happened, up 3-0 or 3-1 but he had Sock raising his arms in frustration and awe. And this was when Sock was red hot after beating Dimitrov and Nishikori in IW. Does this suggest that a healthy Nishioka is a top ten player? Yes it does. :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 7, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Shapovalov is training now at IMG in Bradenton.

  • Hartt · December 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Yes, he had announced he would there. A big problem for Canadian tennis players – unless they want to train indoors during the off season they have to go somewhere warmer.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Wussy! He should be practicing on public courts outdoors in Montreal with nothing but shorts on. Then he’d be regarded as a real tough dude.

  • catherine · December 8, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Problem for players in Northern Europe as well. Unless they live in Monte Carlo :)
    Murray goes to Florida.

    Angie has been training in Lanzarote or some such place with her new coach.

  • Hartt · December 8, 2017 at 7:27 am

    There is a video of players at the National Training Centre in Montreal running, etc., outdoors in the winter. It looks absolutely beautiful, with the trees covered in snow. But I don’t envy those young players! I think there is something where players try to play outdoors in the winter on a particular day – it must be brutal.

    Milos trained in an unheated indoor facility in the winter. He and his father, who operated the ball machine for him, would go at 6:00 am, and the agreement was that, by not having the heat on, they got the facility for free, I think it was. So he was a tough dude!

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 8, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Thiem crew training in Tenerife. Not sure if Gulbis is still part of the group.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 8, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Ihave been playing quite a bit in 30s and 40s the last few weeks and it’s okay but brutal when windy but it reeally toughens you up and forces you to focus and ignore the cold and wind which affects the ball movement. I read that Tiger Woods was forced by his dad to play 18 holes of golf in pouring rain as a kid, to toughen him and get used to adverse conditions and handicaps, then you perform much better when the conditions are perfect. Like a boxer sparring 8 minute rounds or 30 rounds in one day with guys 30 pounds heavier. I like the idea of the Canadians training in the cold.

  • Krzysztof · December 8, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I remember playing indoors tennis in Poland in winter a few years ago when it was like 35 Fahrenheit inside with leaking roof, and even wind swirling near the entrance, the heating was broken down, and I played a couple times in such conditions. It was like extreme tennis. Even when heating was on, it was no more than 45 Fahrenheit!

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 8, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Polska Power baby :)

  • Bryan · December 8, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I never bought into Noah Rubin as a top prospect. Too small and lacks weapons.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I like Rubin.

    This is a hard sport.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 9, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Bryan; Hewitt, Goffin, Ferrer didn’t seem to have any weapons either when they started in the ATP.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I’d argue Goffin is and has been for some time far better than I give him credit. Clean as a whistle game. Textbook strokes. Underrated toughness. And…Davis Cup experience.

    Still feel doubles and Davis Cup bring out new dimensions in a player. The best players apply what they learn from Davis Cup to everyday matches.

    Some players bring an obscene level of play to Davis Cup that they can’t ever summon in a normal match in the challengers etc. Others flop in Davis Cup. And some can take what they learn and treat each match and tournament as a huge opportunity that they are capable of playing well.

    Hard to gauge how Rubin will do. He’s certainly tough enough. Maybe he has bad strategy and his retriever playing doesn’t cut it.

    From what I remember he has a pretty aggressive cut at the ball, which is good. Maybe sharpen up a few combos and serve the percentages and he’ll win more.

    How is next Gen world doing?

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 9, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Andrew, How about Rubin just go to Macci’s Academy for a few weeks, where he will be told the most important but simple advice from Rick Macci? But seriously, hey nobody called Goffin 4-5 years ago. Nobody. And if I did declare in 2012 Goffin was going to win a major or make the WTF finals, I am reasonably certain Dan and others would have called me a loon. But that’s tennis. It doesn’t matter what any pundits believe. Goffin believed. And he ain’t done believing either. I hope Rubin believes and learns from his 2017 and stays healthy. I hope Rubin studies his Diego Schwartzman You Tube videos. I hope Rubin studies Goffin’s example. Rubin in the top ten in 2022? Why the heck not?

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Why not, indeed. Scoop, the sport shows me how little I know. Rubin is as likely to win an atp tournament and break the top twenty as he is to camp out beyond the 200 rankings.

    The sport depends on a lot of things most importantly talent and heart and health. It’s the crucial difference between having a decent career and falling off the map.

    Money matters, though not as much as talent and health and heart, whichever order. Injuries matter a lot, which is one reason Federer, Nadal really watch their schedule. I’d argue players don’t have to play that many tournaments to stay match tough and run themselves into the ground sooner than necessary.

    Maybe gets back to support networks etc. A lot of players really need good voices, good folks around them. Federer or Rubin it takes a team to make a player better than they are.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Some luck too. Brian Baker as we know is probably the most talented USA player to pick up a racquet since Agassi called it quits. He’s simply unlucky.

    Klahn isn’t unlucky – he had good opportunities and didn’t get his game where it needed to be. Then injuries plagued him. I still hold out for a Klahn resurgence! It’s very unlikely.

    Some very good players look at the injuries and money side of things and walk the other way. It’s a tough sport.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Even Klahn is coming back! His results recently are better than I thought. Hopefully his backhand is back. Klahn is very good. Needed to drive the backhand.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 9, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Scoop, if Nishioka is a Top 10 player, I will personally go up to Rochester next week where I’m driving 5 hours north for my son to play an event in Rochester where there’s probably at least two feet of snow on the ground, and I’ll film a video of myself playing in nothing but a thong on an outside court in Rochester. I know that’s not a pretty visual, but that’s how sure I am Nishioka will never be a Top 10 player.

    Nishioka might be a rich man’s Gianluca Pozzi, nothing much more.

  • catherine · December 10, 2017 at 2:54 am

    Andrew – I don’t believe in luck, in tennis or anything else. Not over over a long enough period of time. There’s always a good reason for things, events. If you look hard enough.

    And teams ? Does any player, even Djokovic, need nine people to get him onto the court and back again ? I don’t believe this either.

    I think I know what you mean – but ‘better than they are’ ? That’s not possible. A player can have a good year and then slump, but that year was as good as they were then. Now they’re not.
    Maybe we’re playing with words.

    Dan – you’ve often made that bet with Scoop, perfectly sure it will never happen :)

  • dan markowitz · December 10, 2017 at 6:25 am

    This time I mean it, Catherine. Scoop makes these outlandish comments like Feliciano Lopez will win a slam and I have to counter it someway. Nishioka Top 10? I’m sorry, the guy’s a nice player, but even if he didn’t suffer a serious injury, he’s probably like 5-9 and he’s no Ferrer or Hewitt.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Andrew, agree, support is huge in tennis and it bothers me that McEnroe seems to have little faith in Rubin. This is a very important stage of Rubin’s development, early ATP pro years. Rubin is the crown jewel of the JMTA but Mac is never at any of his matches and never shows any public support for him. From the outside it looks like Mac has written off Rubin as an undersized no-hoper and that looks bad. Mac should be putting in more effort with Rubin, care more, unless of course they had some kind of falling out which maybe is what happened.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Andrew, I saw Klahn play several matches this year and some of his practices and he looks good and he is back. Long way to go to get back to top 65 but why not? I still remember seeing Klahn just overpower and dominate Harrison from the baseline in practice twice, in Delray and Miami three or four years ago. Harrison is top 50 again, Klahn has to see that and say to himself, “If Harrison is top 50 so am I.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Dan, Nishioka is special and if you haven’t seen him play you wouldn’t know. Came back from 61 41 down to Berdych and won last year. Was crushing Sock in Miami up two breaks, had Sock puzzled. This guy Nishioka has Rios qualities that mere mortals just can’t read or understand. F – Lo won Davis Cup with his KO of Delpo and he won Queens last year but he peaked two weeks too early and flubbed at Wimbledon. F Lo has the game to win Wimbledon, just has to get the breaks and peak at the right time. F Lo won Queens and we know there have been many Queens winners who have won Wimbledon.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Dan you also scoffed at my Sock will be top ten in singles and then when it happens you never remember or give credit. You also forgot when I told you in Delray that Nishikori could be top 5 material, this was when he was still a teenager! You forget and never give proper credit. Why is that? Yes I know Nishioka will need some breaks and to stay healthy but I feel he has that something special and he can reach top ten. He beat Berdych this year, he pushed Nadal to a first set tiebreaker, he was beating up on Sock, this guy can make magic on the court and he’s still very young and gaining experience and he will get better and better.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Catherine, yes, I believe in luck and also in teams. No player is alone when it comes to preparation and support networks. Federer has a whole crew behind him, Harrison does also. Sharapova, Serena Williams, many of them. It may go up or down in terms of numbers, but it’s there. Not just a guy or a lady with a racquet will travel.

    Example when a player wins a slam without playing anyone else in top ten. That’s a lucky draw and a testament to the player at the same time. They could only best whoever was in front of them AND whoever was in front of them just happened to be lower ranked players. An example of good luck. Fortune favors the bold.

    Or all the seeds are injured so three of the four slam semifinalists at a slam are first time slam semifinalists. That’s also good luck. Sure they played their hearts and careers to get there, and they made the effort and why not? Still, it was still good fortune plus serious major professional effort.

    It can be argued any which way. There are facts involved here and there’s also the any given day nature of sport. I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. Generally I look at things in a generational way, players like Chela, perpetual thorn in the side of most atp players, retire. Suddenly other players that don’t have to face him do better at slams.

    Is that luck? Yes. Is it also effort? Yes. It’s all of it.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Scoop, so true. I forget how competitive these players are and how sometimes all it takes is some peer pressure and guys like Klahn say sure ill lift weights more days this week because Harrison did and I was smashing this guy in practice so I can make it back to the promised land of ATP tour tennis.

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