A former first singles player for the Demon Deacons has taken the bold initiative to create a unique new Instagram page called “Behind the Racquet” in an effort to get a more in-depth analysis of tennis professionals’ careers off the court.
Around a month ago, Noah Rubin, 22, was having a deep discussion with one of his best friends about the lack of genuine and comprehensive media coverage of tennis players.
“My friend said that he wanted to hear these interview that gets to the nuts and bolts of tennis players,” Rubin said. “Nothing about forehands and backhands. Real stuff. Then, boom! I started it and it’s been really exciting, and people have been extremely receptive of it. I’m happy the page is where it is.”
In contrast to what many believe, the lives of professional tennis players are “not that glamorous,” Rubin said. Going from hotel to hotel and tournament to tournament, the tennis life is exhausting. And making little to no money until cracking the top 100 only adds to the many speed bumps along the tough road to playing tennis for a living.
As a professional tennis player currently ranked No. 153 in the world, Rubin has gone through some high and low moments, often reflecting on the pressure and money put into him having a successful career. Rubin’s main initiative through this Instagram page is to bring interest into the tennis world by showing tennis fans a perspective off the court, a dimension many of these sports fans are not familiar with.
As expressed in Rubin’s page, these “speed bumps” have a broad spectrum, varying from loss of a loved one to illness to depression and so on. Humans, professional tennis players or not, often try to figure out the perfect method in coping with personal issues, but do not have much luck. This page not only gives players the chance to confront their problems head-on, but also gives them the opportunity to serve as a role model for others.
People often find it quite difficult to come forward with their problems. This is due to one thing: fear. Fear that they will be judged. Fear that others will not understand their particular situation for what it is. Even just the general fear of opening up. Rubin admits that he was and still continues to be fearful to a certain extent.
Rubin expresses this in the page’s first post, which is a picture of him. In this post, he stands near the fence with the racquet in front of his face (hence the name “Behind the Racquet”).
Below the photo, Rubin wrote “to let down the people closest to me, my friends and family, is my most daunting fear. From an early age I was pretty aware about how many lives I affected. How many people had to sacrifice time, energy, and money. The idea that it may not be worth it, or there might not be a way to repay them, haunts me at times. It’s what will take me to that next level, or break me, but to impact the world you cannot let that happen and I won’t.”
“[With this new page,] players do not have to be afraid of showing their true feelings and not being self-conscious,” Rubin said.
Instead, the page allows messages to be transmitted across a viable platform where people can empathize with them and their problems while learning more about their favorite players at the same time.
It is a simple process for Rubin. According to Rubin, he has immersed himself in the tennis world of close-knit relationships as everybody knows everybody, facilitating him in developing “Behind the Racquet.” He reaches out to juniors, college players and professionals for interviews, recording them with his iPhone and transcribing their responses on his computer later on. The only step that follows is a verification message from the interviewees giving Rubin the opportunity to post their story publicly on his page.
As Rubin said, “We all have a story.”