© Kelly Cartner

La estrella NextGen Noah Rubin está saludable y jugando su mejor tenis en el torneo ATP Challenger Tour en Stockton.

Rubin Healthy, Back On Track In Stockton

#NextGen star makes deep run in $100,000 Challenger

Some players discuss an injury layoff as a blessing in disguise, a chance to spend time at home with friends and family while working to become stronger than ever. #NextGen star Noah Rubin doesn’t quite have those same views.

“It was a pain,” he laughed. “I hurt my ankle training in Florida, flew to Florida for the grass-court season thinking it would be okay and then it wasn’t. Two-and-a-half months later, I played a Challenger and couldn’t really move, so I had to take another few weeks off. I’ve played a couple of tournaments now, so this is basically my start back and trying to get my [Emirates] ATP Ranking up to where it was.”

After a largely frustrating summer, Rubin is healthy again and showing the form that has seen him jump nearly 150 spots this year in the Emirates ATP Rankings to his current standing of No. 192. Competing at this week’s $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Stockton, California, the 20-year-old American showed his ankle has fully healed by weathering three consecutive three-set matches to reach his first Challenger semi-final since Maui in January.

“This is probably my first tournament back where I’m feeling myself and my game again. If I continue this and keep focused, I can break into the Top 100,” said Rubin. “That said, the thought of the Top 100 probably ruined my game for a couple of months, so I’m trying not to think about it too much or have any specific goals. I’m just trying to enjoy myself.”

Rubin made headlines at the end of last year by winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Charlottesville, Virginia, earning him the USTA Pro Circuit wild card into the Australian Open. Arriving in Melbourne ranked No. 328, he took full advantage of the opportunity with a straight-sets win over No. 17 seed Benoit Paire.

Although Rubin acknowledged that his ankle injury came at a bad time since he was on a run of form, he refused to feel sorry for himself.

“There are people with way worse luck than me, people who have surgery after surgery and can’t seem to get healthy,” said Rubin. “This was luckily just a sprained ankle, so hopefully it doesn’t come back if I do everything to stay healthy.”

The American will compete in four more Challengers after Stockton before wrapping up his season. He’s making the most of a long stretch on the road by staying with host families that USTA Pro Circuit tournaments often offer to players as a way to truly experience the communities they’re in.

“I’m staying with a local family and they’ve treated me incredibly well. I couldn’t ask for anybody better, so it makes the tournament a lot easier and more fun,” said Rubin. “They’ve come to all my matches, so it’s really nice to have that support.”