With the sun shining over New York on a beautiful summer day, the world's premier tennis tournament got underway at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Tuesday during opening round action at the 2013 U.S. Open Main Draw Qualifiers. While some of the sports top stars, including Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka, Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet, were seen practicing on Armstrong and the Grandstand, the local area's top young stars took the court in their first round Qualifiers matches.
The day began on Court 13, where Long Island's Noah Rubin took on Amir Weintraub from Israel. Weintraub is currently ranked 187th in the world, so this was no easy task for Noah. Rubin, who is one of the country's top junior players, had tremendous crowd support, as the stands were packed with friends, family and fans cheering him on. Rubin did not let them down, as he fought valiantly throughout the match against the more experienced Weintraub who is 10 years older than Rubin. His coach, Lawrence Kleger, director of tennis at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy at Sportime Randall's Island, said, "It was great to have a big crowd supporting him. He wasn't star struck. He didn't look any different than normal. He handled it well."
Noah's father and coach Eric Rubin said, "I'm really proud of how he played, but I'm even prouder of how he handled himself in a men's tournament."
The first set was back and forth before Weintraub broke Rubin at 4-5 to win the first set. In the second set, Rubin took control, breaking Weintraub twice en route to a 6-2 win. Tied at one set apiece, the third set would decide it. An unfortunate line call went against Rubin at 1-1 and things went downhill after that as Weintraub broke and took control for a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win.
Coach Kleger, while disappointed with the outcome, was very proud of Noah's effort, "It was just a couple of points that made the difference. Against top players, you don't get many opportunities, but when you do, you need to take advantage."
He said his takeaway from this match is that "He can play with these guys. Amir is ranked 187th in the world and for a lot of the match, I thought Noah outplayed him. He competed. This loss will sting for awhile, but afterward, it will become a positive. I am very proud of him."
Eric Rubin concurred, "There is no doubt that he belongs here."
Next up for Rubin is the U.S. Open Junior Draw which starts Sept. 1st. Coach Kleger said, "I am very optimistic about how Noah will play. As a team, we are looking forward to it.
Eric Rubin added, "Coming off this match, he can see just how important every point is. He will take that into the Junior Draw and be successful."
Another rising American junior star from New York is Jamie Loeb. Loeb had the second match on Court 4 and she rose to the occasion playing sensationally throughout in a 6-1, 6-3 win over Veronica Cepede Roug, who is currently ranked 193rd in the world. With tremendous crowd support behind her, Loeb gave the crowd much reason to cheer throughout the match. Her coach from the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, Felix Alvarado, said, "Jaime enjoys the hometown crowd support. She feeds off it and it helps her play even better."
Loeb's serve was a strong suit today as she continuously held throughout the match. The one nervous moment was at 6-1, 5-1 with two match points on her serve she ended up giving the game away and was then forced to serve for the match again at 5-3. This time, she finished it out for the victory and a second round matchup with Ksensia Pervak of Russia on Thursday.
Loeb who is enrolled to start classes at the University of North Carolina this year, was supposed to start school today. After the match when asked about missing class on the first day, she said, "It's worth it. This is an unbelievable feeling and it was a great atmosphere here today. It's incredible to play at the U.S. Open in my home state and compete for a shot at the Main Draw."
As for her next match, Loeb said, " I will just try to play like I did today. No pressure. Have fun and compete."
Alvarado added, "She played amazing today. She just needs to go out Thursday, execute the game plan and do it again."
Credit all photos to Adam Wolfthal
Long Island's Noah Rubin in action against Israel's Amir Weintraub, currently ranked 187th in the world
Ossining, N.Y.'s Jamie Loeb on Court 4 during her win over Veronica Cepede Roug, who is currently ranked 193rd in the world
Noah Rubin in his post-match handshake with his opponent Amir Weintraub