Last year at this time, Noah Rubin was a freshman at Wake Forest University, on his way to becoming the best freshman in college tennis and an NCAA singles finalist. While the pro tour beckoned, Rubin was focused on the task at hand: Successfully making his mark on the collegiate tennis world, as he prepared for the upcoming spring season.
A year later, Rubin has taken on the ATP World Tour and is preparing to compete in the main singles draw at the 2016 Australian Open when he faces the 17th-seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire in the opening round.
Days spent attending classes, studying and juggling schoolwork with tennis have been replaced with hours of on and off-court training at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, as Noah learns to manage his life as a young adult, and his career as pro tour player under the guidance of JMTA directors and coaches, and, of course, of John McEnroe.
In November, Rubin secured a wild card into the main draw of this year’s Aussie Open by winning his first ATP Challenger tournament in Charlottesville, where he played eight matches in nine days, including a dramatic comeback in the finals—saving two match points after losing the first set and trailing 1-5 in the second.
The victory set into motion a critical action plan for Noah’s off-season training and tournament selection, which Rubin admits was both exciting and overwhelming.
“There were no expectations for me going into the final tournaments of 2015,” said Rubin. “I knew what I was capable of and this was another opportunity to prove it. It all took place so quickly, from winning my first ATP Challenger title to being awarded the wild card. I am not yet where I want to be, but this opportunity to train for and play at the Australian Open definitely takes me one step closer.”
Professional tennis has the longest in-season tournament schedule of any pro sport, with tournaments scheduled most weeks from January through November , meaning that the off-season is basically a single month, and needs to be utilized optimally by players and coaching teams. This is the only time of the year when fitness coaches have the opportunity to put their players through more rigorous and demanding strength and conditioning routines, with the goal of addressing deficiencies and imbalances in anticipation of the start of the New Year.
Rubin discovered just how intense off-season training could be after spending some of November and most of December working through a methodical, yet unorthodox program, designed by John McEnroe Tennis Academy Director of Athletic Performance Richard-John Mensing Jr. Noah’s off-season workout focused on both physical and mental components, as well as on the vital role nutrition plays in supporting and aiding his body’s recovery.
“I have never felt better in my life,” said Rubin. “It is an incredible transformation as I feel now more than ever that I can walk onto the court and outlast the person on the other side. I also now understand the importance of realizing what my body needs in order to thrive and reach its maximum strength.”
Not all of Rubin’s time was spent in the gym and on-court. In order to acclimate him for the blazing temperatures Down Under, he and Coach Mensing spent a portion of the off-season in the sun, heat and humidity of Miami. Ocean swims, sand dune sprints and other unique and unconventional components were all designed to improve Noah’s overall fitness and to increase his capacity to adapt to the grueling elements players historically endure at the Australian Open.
Lawrence Kleger, director of tennis at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy and Noah’s long-time personal coach, is very grateful to have Coach Mensing as a fellow JMTA director in Noah’s corner.
“Richard Mensing Jr. working with Noah has made an incredible difference, not only in Noah’s physical condition, but also his mental approach to the stresses and demands of the ATP Tour. Noah has not yet cracked the ATP Top 100, but his work ethic is top 10. Hard work pays off and we are expecting some terrific results in 2016,” said Kleger.
Looking back, Rubin knows how quickly things can change.
“There is no predicting what the future holds,” said Rubin. “As I learned when I made my run at Junior Wimbledon and at the U.S. Nationals in 2014, and as I found out recently in Charlottesville, everything can change in an instant. My job is to make sure that my mind and body are ready for anything. It is a rollercoaster, but I am thoroughly enjoying every second of it.”
Rubin hopes that his hiatus from college will be a long one which sees his dream of a successful career on the ATP World Tour realized. Noah continues to work hard with his JMTA coaches and trainers to educate himself, as he learns what it will take to realize his dreams.
Let the 2016 season begin.