Noah Rubin, a high school student from Long Island, N.Y., celebrates his 16th birthday Tuesday.
Monday was a pretty eventful day for the young tennis standout, too, as he came through qualifying to earn a berth in the 32-player main draw of singles at the City of Brownsville Men’s USTA $15,000 Pro Circuit Tennis Tournament.
The main singles draw begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, along with the 16-team doubles competition later in the day, and runs through Sunday at Brownsville Tennis Center. It’s the 11th straight year the event has visited Brownsville.
Along with Rubin, other players gaining entry into the main draw Monday through the qualifying portion of the tournament were Jonas Luetjen of Germany, Dean O’Brien of South Africa, Marcel theimann of Germany and Americans Nicholas Naumann, Vahid Mirzadeh, Mitchell Krueger and Tyler Hochwalt.
Rubin, ranked 28th in the world as an 18-and-under player, was especially pleased Monday about his visit to the Rio Grande Valley for his first USTA event after prevailing 6-1, 6-3 over Chris Kwon, the top-seeded player in the qualifying field. Kwon, 26, is a Maryland native who plays out of Boca Raton, Fla.
Rubin seemed to do a fairly good job of handling Kwon’s strong serve and didn’t commit quite as many unforced errors as his older opponent as the match went on.
Rubin went ahead 5-3 in the second set when Kwon couldn’t hold his serve. In the last game, Rubin led 40-love when Kwon’s return sailed about one foot too long on the final point, securing the match for the young New Yorker, who clinched his fist in triumph.
“Actually, this is was my first (USTA) Futures tournament, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Rubin said. “I felt that I played very well in the first set. Things went a little slow for me in the beginning of the second set, but I was consistent and played with the wind, which was a big factor.
“I stuck in the match and kept putting a lot of balls back on the court (with my returns),” he added. “I think the annoyance (of Kwon) came from me (continually) putting balls on the court. Things ended up well for me today.”
Rubin will have Tuesday to celebrate his birthday as his opening singles match in the main draw is scheduled for Wednesday against No. 6 seed Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria, a three-time NCAA All-America selection for the University of Texas-Austin. Kutrovsky is the winningest player in Longhorns history.
“My age is a difference because I’m pretty sure people know my age here,” said Rubin, who is coached by his father, Eric Rubin, and Lawrence Kleger. “I’ve been playing the ITF (juniors) circuit, so internationally-wise, I’m not as nervous about that, but I know these guys here are more experienced than me, and right now I’m just trying to get as much experience (on this level) as I can. I want to see how my game will evolve in these tournaments, and hopefully play better tennis as a result of it.