Monthly Archives: July 2014

Experts: College Is The Way To Go

The headline screams, “98 percent of aspiring pros should consider college.”

They are the words of Patrick McEnroe, echoed by many in the sport, and a prevailing thought here at JMTA. According to Kamakshi Tanton’s piece, Patrick said to the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Unless it’s a given that you will be a Top 20 player, and you never know that, I think college is a great place to go and mature physically, emotionally,” he said. “There’s great coaching, great facilities. I think the competition is coming back to where it’s getting better and better.”

JMTA students have two perfect examples in Jamie Loeb, whose training her helped her blossom into the top-ranked collegian as a freshman at the University of North Carolina, and Wimbledon Juniors champion Noah Rubin, who selected another ACC school in the same state, Wake Forest, and will matriculate there this fall.

Rubin, Loeb Added To JMTP Benefit With Pros Djokovic, Safarova

Noah Rubin and Jamie Loeb, who have made big splashes in the tennis world in recent weeks, will have another big day in the spotlight on August 21, when they join Wimbledon men’s champion Novak Djokovic and women’s semifinalist Lucie Safarova in competing in the Johnny Mac Tennis Project Benefit at SPORTIME Randall’s Island.

John McEnroe, Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist, actor Edward Norton and others will participate in the massive Pre-US Open fundraiser.

“I want to personally thank Novak for donating his time in support of my foundation, Johnny Mac Tennis Project,” said McEnroe. “This a tremendous opportunity for two of our brightest JMTA stars to show their skills against the best in tennis. All of us at JMTA are so proud of what Noah and Jamie have accomplished, and also excited that a player of Lucie’s caliber has added her support to this special night.”

Loeb will take on Safarova, currently ranked at No. 17 on the WTA Tour, at 6:30 p.m., followed by Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon men’s singles champion, against Rubin at 7:30.

Rubin, 18, of Long Island, advanced through qualifying, winning eight matches – six in the main draw – on the Wimbledon grass to claim the junior title. He defeated sixth-seeded Stefan Kozlov in the finals to cap a run that also included wins over the seventh and 12th seeds.

Loeb, 19, from Ossining, N.Y., had an incredible year at UNC, recording a 53-4 singles mark, including 19-1 in the fall, racking up the most single-season wins in UNC history, and helping the Tar Heels to the National championship match. The ITA All-American in singles and doubles is also the first UNC female player to be the top-ranked singles player in the country.

Safarova, 27, is a native of the Czech Republic. She has won five titles since turning pro in 2002, most recently in Quebec City last year. In addition to her semifinal run at Wimbledon, which included a win over 10th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova, Safarova reached the fourth round at Roland Garros. Her current ranking matches her career best.

The evening will also include pro-celebrity doubles action, featuring Djokovic, McEnroe and their guests, Lundqvist and Norton, both almost as serious about their tennis as they are about their day jobs, as well as other promising junior players from the JMTA, a lively auction and great hospitality, with all net proceeds to support the efforts of Johnny Mac Tennis Project, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

JMTP provides scholarships, coaching, transportation and other financial assistance to qualified young tennis players in the greater New York area, as well as introducing the sport to hundreds of new junior players each year in the neighborhoods surrounding Academy locations. JMTP benefit nights in previous years have featured the likes of Bjorn Borg (2011), Andre Agassi (2012) and Jim Courier (2013).  JMTP and Sportime Clubs, home of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, have already provided over $1.5 million in scholarships and no cost programming to young players in NYC and its communities.

McEnroe, Rubin Talk Tennis On ESPN Radio

Our friend Scoop Malinowski at Tennis-Prose has this nice recap of John McEnroe‘s interview with Noah Rubin yesterday when John hosted the afternoon drive show on ESPN Radio N.Y.

Maybe Noah’s best line: “Djokovic is a great matchup. I think I really have a chance (to win)…I hope he’s not listening to this.”

Check out Scoop’s piece for more from John and Noah.

Noah Rubin Featured On WCBS, WABC TV; Feted At CitiField

The New York sports scene has caught up to Noah Rubin following his run through to the Wimbledon Juniors title.

WCBS-TV and WABC-TV both met up with him at SPORTIME Randall’s Island on Wednesday (see videos below), and the Mets invited him, coach Lawrence Kleger and Noah’s Dad Eric to their game Thursday night.

Before the game, Rubin met another star on the rise, Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, as well as backup catcher Luke Recker. He received a hero’s welcome from the team as he appeared on the large video board in the second inning, to rousing applause.


JMTA and SPORTIME Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger Discusses Rubin Wimbledon Victory, Recent JMTA Success

JMTA and SPORTIME Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger took a few minutes from a whirlwind past few days to discuss Noah Rubin’s resounding Wimbledon Juniors title and the continued success that JMTA has experienced.

JMTA Blog: It has been a pretty remarkable spring at JMTA, between the success of some of the kids at elite tournaments, Jamie Loeb at North Carolina and now Noah’s breakthrough, what is the secret to the way the Academy is going?

Lawrence Kleger: I believe that there are no secrets in running a successful academy. It’s about dedication and hard work. Our coaching staff at JMTA is world-class, and they put in long hours and are willing to do whatever it takes to elevate our students to the next level. But if there is one area where I believe we excel it would be the positive way we challenge and motivate our athletes.  We hold our students to a very high standard of attitude and effort, but we do so in an encouraging way that brings out the best in each and every player. Our Student Code of Conduct and our carefully designed curriculums provide the framework and structure for our academy’s success.  And we have what no other academy has—John McEnroe—arguably the greatest competitor in the history of tennis.

JMTAB: Some people see Noah’s win as surprising, were you surprised and why or why not? 

LK: To be honest, nothing that Noah accomplishes surprises me. He has won at every level including the ITF Professional Futures circuit. So while Noah winning the Wimbledon Junior Championship was a thrill, it was not a shock. That is why I am so convinced that he will be successful on the ATP Tour in the very near future. However, to be honest, I did not think that grass was Noah’s best surface. I will now have to reconsider that assessment!

JMTAB:You have always talked about the value of college; what did a year in college now mean to Jamie as a tennis player and what could it mean to Noah?

LK: I think her coach at JMTA Felix Alvarado would agree that Jamie had a spectacular Freshman year at the University of North Carolina. Aside from being on her own and gaining the maturity one gains from the college experience, Jamie was able to improve her strength, fitness, and her play under pressure. Jamie was a highly touted freshman and was the team’s best player. That came with built in pressure. Every time Jamie walked on the court, her team was counting on her to win. I think that is the kind of pressure I would like Noah to be under. And of course I would like him to have a great college experience like Jamie’s. Being away from home, being independent, and being a mature, self-sufficient adult.

JMTAB: American tennis has taken some hits recently; were you surprised at the run of several boys in the juniors at Wimbledon and what will it take to sustain such play at the professional level down the line? 

LK: Obviously it was a great showing by the American juniors and hopefully we can sustain it. I know Patrick McEnroe is working very hard to see that it happens. I believe that the more the USTA and private academies and private coaches work together, the better the chances of seeing Americans regain their lost stature in the expanding world of tennis. I think that this is starting to happen and that has to be good news if we want to produce top players.

JMTAB: Who are some of the other faces we should be watching at JMTA this summer?

LK: Jessica Golovin, age 16 is already competing well at the ITF level. Sabrina Xiong, 17, should have a terrific summer at the Girls 18 Nationals. I believe Oliver Sec, 16, who has committed to UC-Santa Barbara for the fall, is ready to make a big impact on the ITF Junior Circuit in the coming months.  He is 6’2”, athletic and has really improved his physicality on the court. The JMTA’s Williams sisters, Brianna and Chelsea, have been sidelined with some minor injuries, but seem to be getting healthy; and that is bad news for whomever has to play them this summer. JMTA also has some of the best 12 and under talent in the country and we are expecting some impressive results in the younger age groups at clay courts and hard courts.

John McEnroe Tennis Academy Student Noah Rubin Wins Wimbledon Juniors

Noah Rubin has completed his storybook run through the Wimbledon Boys’ Singles draw, becoming the first American in seven years to win the title, defeating fellow American Stefan Kozlov, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, today on No. 1 Court. Rubin, who trains at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, defeated three seeded players, advancing through the qualifying draw. In all, Rubin won seven matches to take the Championship.

“I am proud to see two American boys in the finals of the Wimbledon juniors for the first time since my first visit to Wimbledon in 1977”, said John McEnroe, “and prouder still to see Noah take the title. He has worked very hard on and off the court, and it is exciting to see him come through in such a big way on the big stage.”

Rubin, 18, has been a student at SPORTIME since age seven and at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy student since 2010. His personal coach since 2003 and JMTA and SPORTIME Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger was unable to accompany Noah on the trip, as he is recovering from a hip replacement surgery, but explains, “Noah did a phenomenal job of maintaining his focus and keeping his compete level high from the first match in qualies to final against Stefan. That is what is required to win a slam. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

“This is obviously an exciting day for me,” said Rubin. “I would like to thanks everyone at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy for their support. Their help, and funding from the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, made it possible for me to compete internationally in ITF and pro events this year. This victory would not have been possible without that support.”

Rubin broke Kozlov early in the first set before both players held through for a 6-4 Rubin triumph. After the two exchanged early breaks in the second, Kozlov broke in the 10th game to win, 6-4. In the third set, Rubin broke in the seventh game and closed out the final two, the latter on a break, to win the Championship.

It was the first All-American boys’ singles final since 1977 (won by Van Winitsky) and fourth U.S. winner since then (1981, Matt Anger; 1994, Scott Humphries; 2007, Donald Young). Winitsky, incidentally, was a frequent doubles partner of current JMTA coach Fritz Buehning, teaming to reach the U.S. Open final in 1983.

Rubin Reaches All-American Final At Wimbledon

Noah Rubin rolled through to the Wimbledon Boys’ Singles final today, dispatching fellow American Taylor Harry Fritz, 6-4, 6-2. He completed the win in under an hour of total match time, but a long weather delay at 6-4, 5-1 meant a bit more work for the 18-year-old, who has dropped just one set in his journey to the finals.

Said his coach, Lawrence Kleger:  “Noah played a terrific match today in all aspects.  But at 5-1 up in the 2nd set, play was suspended due to rain. That was the worst thing for Noah sailing along about to close out the match.  After the rain delay, Taylor came out and held easily to make it 5-2 and then Noah struggled by allowing the only break points Taylor had all match in the eighth game.  Scary moment.  But Noah held to reach his first junior slam final.  Tomorrow should be a terrific match between two outstanding juniors.”

Rubin will face Stefan Kozlov of Florida in the final on Sunday, first match on Court 1 at 1 p.m. London time (8 a.m. ET).

He was featured in this NY Daily News article with JMTA shout-out today as well!

NY Times: McEnroe Wants To Bounce Line Judges

If, as he asserted more than three decades ago, “Chalk flew up!” on a key point in his Wimbledon match against Tom Gullikson, John McEnroe would have preferred that his American opponent had been the one to decide the fate of the point, rather than a stone-faced linesperson.

He told the New York Times in a recent article by John Branch, that he’d prefer tournaments get rid of the linesmen and have players call their own points.

“Probably 95 percent of the balls, they know right away,” he told the Times. “You’re talking about a very small amount. Look at a set, the amount of shots that aren’t obvious to both players.”

Rubin Run Continues With Second Win Over Seeded Wimby Opponent

Noah Rubin continued his impressive run at Wimbledon by advancing to the Juniors’ Quarterfinals with a resounding three-set win over seventh-seeded Francis Tiafoe of Maryland, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, today.

Rubin, who served up eight aces in the third round win, will face either No. 1 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia or Tim Van Rijthoven of The Netherlands in his quarterfinal match.

UPDATE: Van Rijthoven pulled off the three-set upset and will be Noah’s QF opponent, first match on Court 19 scheduled for 11 a.m. London Time (6 a.m. Eastern).

Noah Rubin Upends #12 Seed At Wimbledon Juniors, Advances To Round of 16

His second consecutive straight set victory in hand, a strong 6-3, 7-5 triumph over 12th-seeded Kamil Majchrzak of Poland today has propelled Noah Rubin to the third round of the Boys’ Singles draw at Wimbledon.

Rubin faces an even stiffer challenge in his next match, when he takes on American Francis Tiafoe, seeded No. 7. Rubin and Tiafoe are among the seven Americans still alive among the final 16 in the tournament.