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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” • With • Coco Gauff | 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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“I’ve always wondered how better or worse my life would be without tennis. With what this sport has given me I cannot imagine my life would be better without. At times I found myself too busy comparing myself to others. Most of my friends go to normal high school. I felt like they always seemed so happy being ‘normal’. For a while I thought I wanted that but then I realized that just like social media everyone isn’t as happy as what you see in their posts. It took me about a year to get over that idea. Again, my results were still okay, so this didn’t have much to do with tennis. I just wasn’t happy playing anyway. My parents did a great job of trying to make sure I did ‘normal’ childhood things. I was able to go to homecoming this past year and was planning on going to prom until the coronavirus. I do try to see friends as much as I can. My parents both work so I do spend a lot of time at home alone. It is challenging to do school alone while you can’t socialize with other students. Even though I may miss some things, I think this lifestyle I live is perfect for me, and it’s not for everyone. Traveling is never easy. I have two younger brothers and we are all really close. Every time I leave them it hurts a bit. I miss one of my brothers’ birthday every year because it falls right in the middle of the French Open. Through this all I am so lucky to have them because they aren’t the ones to be jealous. They don’t mind me getting more attention, they understand and are always supportive of what I do.

Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want. It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast. Once I let that all go, that when I started to have the results I wanted. Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017/18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, I just found myself not enjoying what I loved. I realized I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far. Even though I had, it felt like there weren’t many friends there for me. When you are in that dark mindset you don’t look on the bright side of things too often, which is the hardest part. I don’t think it had much to do with tennis, maybe just about juggling it all. I knew that I wanted to play tennis but didn’t know how I wanted to go about it. It went so far that I was thinking about possibly taking a year off to just focus on life. Choosing not to obviously was the right choice but I was close to not going in that direction. I was just lost. I was confused and overthinking if this was what I wanted or what others did. It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever. Everyone asks me how I stay calm on court and I think it’s because I accepted who I am after overcoming low points in my life. Now, when I’m on court, I am just really thankful to be out there.

Personally for me, I like playing for more than myself. I have girls now coming up to me, of all races but mostly African Americans, saying they are picking up a racquet for the first time because of me. It amazes me since that is how I got into the sport. I remember about a month before Wimbledon going to the club I train at and seeing mostly boys playing. A month after I went back and the majority were girls and the trainer said it was because of me. I could never imagine that one tournament could have that kind of effect. For me, one of the biggest things is to continue breaking barriers. At the same time I don’t like being compared to Serena or Venus. First, I am not at their level yet. I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up. It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols. With all their accolades I shouldn’t be put in the same group yet. Of course I hope to get to where they are but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them. I feel like I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to be at this level without them. I would never have even thought about joining tennis, without them a part of it, since there were very few African Americans in the sport. For all they did, I shouldn’t yet be compared to them.

I am getting used to the idea that people view me as a role model. It does add a bit of pressure since I know people are watching every move. For the most part it is easy because I am always just being myself, not putting up a front, which people seem to be okay with. I don’t feel like I have to flip a switch or anything. In the beginning I thought I had to be perfect but I’ve done a lot of soul searching and moved past it. Since doing that I’ve been having much more fun practicing and playing matches. It was 2018 where I remember waking up and not wanting to practice. I was lucky that I was able to to realize it early on and stop what could have been a longer drought. I have a good circle of friends and family that I always kept small. I was never the kid who had too many friends growing up. It helped teach me to know who really cares or who is just rocking with me for other reasons. I am very careful of who I keep close to me. These are the people that helped me through all these crazy times. I took me a while to be comfortable with expressing my real emotions to them but once I learned it made everything easier.”
Coco Gauff
 (cocogauff)

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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