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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” • With • Alize Cornet | Tennis 10sBalls

Photo by Behind The Racquet

Editor’s note: 10sBalls thanks Noah Rubin for giving us permission to repost these great stories. We wish him and this endeavor the best of luck. Great seeing Noah wearing K-Swiss and playing Solinco Strings.

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“In 2018 I received my final ‘no show’ with the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, which ended up being the toughest six months of my life. I didn’t know if I would be able to continue my career. The first no show was in November of 2016. I remember I had an early flight where I had to be at the airport around 6:30 and I forgot to change my appointment with the doping control officer. They came to my house when I was already on my way to the airport. I then asked them if I could turn and come home but they said I would be too late and they couldn’t count it. I knew that was my first no show. It happened exactly the same way for my second no show in July of 2017. I had an early flight in the morning to go to the States where I had to be at the airport at 6:00 or 6:30 and I forgot to change it again. They called me while I was at the airport and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is not possible.’ I asked them to come to the airport to test here but of course they didn’t want to move. I tried to explain to the ITF my situation and that it wasn’t bad intentions but just bad luck that I forgot to change the times. I sent them all my plane tickets and the proof that I was actually going to the airport for my flight. I tried to appeal many times, but they didn’t want to hear me out, so there was my second no show. Then started my constant fear of getting my third and final no show. I felt this weight on my shoulder that they could appear at any moment and if i got my third no show everything would be over. It was getting so bad that even my mother would have nightmares thinking they were ringing her doorbell in the middle of the night. This was traumatic for the whole family, not just myself. Now it’s October and I get a notification from the ITF telling me that I had a third no show. I remember reading this email and not understanding a single word they were telling me. I was in shock because I did everything possible to make sure this didn’t happen. I was home each time I said I would be and made no mistakes. This email came out of nowhere and I had no idea how it was possible that I got that third one. My world fell down. I remember calling my brother saying, ‘I don’t know what happened. I promise I did everything right’. I remember my brother told me not to panic and that we would appeal after getting a lawyer and it would all be fine because you did nothing wrong. He kept telling me not to worry, that we had all the proof. I started to figure out that the ITF didn’t trust me and didn’t want to hear my side of the story at all. I got the message that this was going to court, six months later, on the first of May. In the meantime I had to keep playing and doing my job with the idea that everything could be over on the first of May. They have ‘the right’ to take all my points and money away, during this six months, if they find me guilty, and also suspend me for two years. I found myself crying at night in my bed thinking I’m doing this all for nothing. I felt the judgment in the eyes of my fellow tennis players even though they didn’t know what really happened. Since many people don’t know about the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, there was a lot of confusion about the facts. It was some of the worst moments in my life. I tried my best to let my own tennis distract me and too keep as normal of a life as possible. I remember right before the Australian Open started, getting a notification from ITF reminding me that they could take my prize money and points for this tournament, which kept the ideas of ‘doing this all for nothing’, in my head. Even with everything going on I was playing really well. I was using this time as an opportunity to show them I was not scared because the truth was on my side. I had nothing to hide. I eventually learned of how the third no show came about. The anti-doping controller said she came to my house, rang my doorbell and I didn’t answer. She then went back to her car, waited an hour in front of my house and then left. I had no idea about any of this. I heard no doorbell ring, I had no missed call on my phone, nothing. The ITF continued to shut me up as they said we have information that all of this happened. You can give them whichever proof you have, it doesn’t matter. This was really my first interaction with the ITF. I didn’t really know how they worked, but now I do. They are supposed to be there to help the players but it seems that the idea gets lost sometimes. I understand it might be tough but they have do better at realizing it is not always the player making the mistake, the controller is human as well. It was impossible to talk to ITF when most of the time I was receiving automated emails, not even a real person. I think the ITF has to find a better balance between being tough enough to fight doping in the sport but having that human aspect to be compassionate at times for the player. They made me feel hopeless. It is really tough for 12 years to let them know where you are every day of your life, it is only normal for mistakes to be made. I felt constantly anxious and angry. I was someone who didn’t even take paracetamol when I had a headache and here I am dealing with getting suspended for doping. I did what I could to take some good out of it. I actually had a new perspective because I was living day by day without looking into the future, taking in everything I could. I couldn’t protect myself further than 1st of May, so I didn’t. The most ironic thing of all was how well I began to play, in my worst state of mind. I remember getting the news from my lawyer saying I was acquitted; it was one of the best days of my life. I finally had the chance to rid myself of this story. My family and I can finally get back to normal. They finally heard my story, believed me and found me not guilty. I felt so relieved for the next month and played as if I got another life, that everything is a bonus now. I found it funny that only a few months later it went back to normal. You think something as painful as that situation will change you forever, but in reality it really isn’t enough to change everything. All the old tennis habits came back, like getting angry on court. I did deal with mental health injuries after this. It took until 2019 for me to really get over everything that happened. I am finally more relaxed, looking at my career and understanding that if things went differently, this would all be over.” Alizé Cornet (alizecornet)

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