OKBET BALL SPORTS : Noah Rubin had decided to take an extended vacation from professional tennis, but he was unsure about his next steps. There was no doubt in his mind that the mental and physical stress had finally caught up with him and that he needed a break.
He quickly, however, realized what direction he should go.
The 26-year-old Rubin revealed his resignation from OKBET tennis in a video posted to Instagram on Monday, then on Tuesday, he declared his transition to pickleball while making light of his little height.
Rubin remarked in the video, “The tennis court is simply just too vast, and there’s way too much land to cover.” “One day I happened across the pickleball court and realized that I had finally found my true home. Furthermore, physique is irrelevant in this game.”
Rubin, who was the 2014 Wimbledon junior champion and the 2015 NCAA singles runner-up, has made a surprising career pivot.
“I’m not a tennis purist, but there’s a lot of passion for the game, and when something like pickleball comes in and so rapidly takes over, the natural response is, ‘Get the f—- out of here.'” That’s what Rubin revealed to ESPN, he said. “There is just no possibility that this [sport] will ever amount to anything, and there is also no way that this is even interesting. When I finally got over myself, however, I realized, “Wow, I understand it now.” The pieces are finally coming together.”
Just a few months after becoming pro as a 19-year-old in 2015, Rubin won his first Challenger tournament. Unfortunately, he suffered from injuries on a regular basis and never quite achieved the heights he had hoped to achieve while on the road. He’s been open and honest about the ups and downs of the tennis pro circuit throughout his career, and in 2018 he achieved a career-high ranking of No. 125.
Rubin said that he realized he needed to take a vacation from tennis because he was unhappy with his performance on the court and because he could require wrist surgery if he wanted to keep playing. At the Citi Open in July, he competed for the last time and went out in the qualifying round.
Prior to his retirement, Rubin planned to devote most of his time to his “Behind the Racquet” Instagram account and podcast. And although that’s still a big part of his plan, he found a new physical goal and direction when playing pickleball with Ryan Harwood, general manager of the Major League Pickleball club The 5s, on a whim in August. Rubin had dabbled with the game here and there, but he never gave it any thought.
“I knew the sport was expanding and that there was promise there, but I wasn’t completely convinced until we began hitting that day,” Rubin recalled. “You have to be one of the first to cross over, [Harwood] said. Opportunities abound, attention is focused on the industry as a whole, and eventually the sport will see explosive growth; thus, you must take part in it.
After that, I did some more research, and because I move quite quickly, I was in Austin, Texas, at one of the city’s several pickleball havens (Dreamlands) within three days.
Rubin acknowledges he hasn’t worked out many of the finer elements of his pickleball career, such as when he’ll make his competitive debut, but he’s eager to get in on the ground floor of the rapidly expanding sport. Due to the relative youth of the three professional leagues (Major League Pickleball [MLP]), the Association of Pickleball Professionals [APP], and the Professional Pickleball Association [PPA] (all acronyms), players are not tied exclusively to any one league and often compete in events hosted by multiple organizations.
The professional and amateur followings for the sport have never been stronger, and only last month it was revealed that LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Draymond Green, and Kevin Love will all be co-owners of an MLP expansion club. Some of the league’s other investors include Drew Brees and James Blake.
This weekend, in Columbus, Ohio, Rubin will be attending the MLP’s season-ending tournament as a spectator before trying to figure out what comes next. While he is still mulling about what his first tournament will be, he plans to put the social media and marketing knowledge he has gained from “Behind the Racquet” to use to help spread the popularity of pickleball.
Rubin is looking forward to the task of working out the various aspects of his newest project, including what his aims are for the new sport.
It’s strange, in tennis, the response is usually “I want to be No. 1 in the world,” but with pickle, it’s “so new to me,” as Rubin put it. “I’m a competitive person, so when I step foot on the court, I always want to give it my all. Basically, that’s the way things are. However, do I really believe that I should strive to become number one in the world? Sure. And it’s always going to be there, so it’s not like it’s not a part of it.
“I am not familiar with the professional playing scene and the exact route one must take to succeed there. With terms of marketing and all the rest, I know I have a lot of ideas on how to make use of people and other elements, but in games, I simply want to discover where my abilities lie.”