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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” • With • Robin Soderling | Tennis 10sBalls

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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#LegendaryBTR- “It was extremely difficult to make the decision to retire. I played my last match when I was only 27 years old. In my head, I had many more years left in tennis. I was at the peak of my tennis career when I got sick with mononucleosis, which was around two years before I retired. For a long time before I was diagnosed I was stressed, tired and really rundown. Through this all I kept playing. I became sick all the time because my immune system was weak, but I kept pushing. Deep down in my mind I knew something was wrong, but all the tests doctors took came back fine. Even though I was playing well, it was all up and down, until I got mono. I feel like the combination of my bad immune system and seriously overtraining affected me. Mono was just the last thing my body could handle. Doctors said I first got it in Indian Wells of 2011. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning but got worse after my last tournament in Bastad. I didn’t leave my house for six months. After about a year I would begin to feel better. I would train a little, up the intensity, and then the symptoms would come back. I would get so tired and the fever would come back. It went on like this for years and was really frustrating. I tried to make a comeback three separate years, which all failed. This all grew on me and took a major toll on my mind. I accepted that maybe I could never come back. When I made the decision to finally stop it was hard but also a bit of a relief. I didn’t have to fight to come back and live in this uncertainty. After making the decision I could finally accept it and figure out how to live my life again. It was a weird feeling during my first six months after my career because I didn’t care about tennis, it was a nice break. I almost didn’t care if I were to come back. When you get really sick you start to realize your health is most important. It’s crazy because during my career tennis was the only thing I cared about. At this point I only cared about getting better, it was simple. After some time I was watching tennis on TV seeing players I was playing against. I was wishing to just be on the court again, competing. It was mentally tough. My first year out I didn’t do any physical activity because I didn’t want to aggravate anything. It has taken about five years for me to get back to a point where I could train however I wanted. At this time I felt like it has been too long a period for me to return to tennis. I didn’t have the energy to do so either.

I don’t blame it specifically on anything I did. Being a top athlete in any sport is not easy. There are times where I blame myself. There were moments in my career where I wish I would have been able to take a step back or not take it as seriously. I was living in this bubble where everything was tennis. As the years went on, and as I became better, I took away more and more of the things I enjoyed to do. I thought this is what I needed to do to be the best I could be. It was all worth it if I won my matches and ranking improved, but if I didn’t it felt as if everything was f**ked. It is easy to look at tennis differently after your career. I see it now as just a sport. My biggest issue was not having that on and off switch. I couldn’t change my mentality between matches, practice and off court situations. I knew very well how long tennis seasons are, that there are basically no off seasons. Tennis doesn’t make it easy to ‘turn it off’ and you have to find ways during the season to really take care of yourself, your body and just rest. I look back and wish I had something more than tennis. I wish I could’ve at least studied something around 20 or 21 when I was already starting to think of life after tennis. Anyone’s tennis career is not very long, there will always be an after and it comes faster than you think. Having something else to take your mind off of tennis at times will allow you to feel less pressure. I thought you had to be serious all the time, that you have to think about only tennis. You have to breathe tennis. I don’t necessarily think it’s the right way. It’s okay if your mind is elsewhere in order to breathe a little.

People always bring up when I beat Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open. Of course it was a great feeling. I don’t think anyone in the world expected me to win that match. It was difficult because right after shaking hands I realized that it wasn’t the finals. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, don’t be too happy, don’t relax too much’. I didn’t want to be that guy to beat Rafa but then lose in the finals. I just wanted to stay focused because if you relax even a little bit you lose a match, like a grand slam final, easily. At the time I did not realize how big of an accomplishment it was. I remember getting back to the locker room and having about 350 texts messages. It kind of started to hit me that this was a big thing. I appreciate all the support I got that day and still get for winning that match but the bigger story is Nadal. We will never ever see someone winning 12 Roland Garros’ again.”

Robin Soderling (rsoderling)

Editors note: We applaud Noah Rubin and all of his colleagues. The way they open up and expose their situations with the reader of BEHIND THE RACKET is truly amazing. NoahRubin33 is always ready to give you a tennis tip by sending him your video. Please listen to his great podcasts and go check out his coaching on his sites.

You can check out more Behind The Racquet stories on the link below:

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