Rubin survives marathon match to win Tallahassee Challenger championship

Noah Rubin celebrates his Challenger victory with a fist pump.
Photo courtesy Jacob Stuckey

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

Noah Rubin knew quite a bit about Marc Polmans, his opponent in the championship match of the Tallahassee Challenger tennis tournament.

He even figured he’d be on the court for awhile this past Saturday if he wanted to get by Polmans and become the first American to win at Forestmeadows for the first time in four years.

Rubin just didn’t anticipate being in a marathon that lasted two hours and eight minutes in front of an enthusiastic crowd. When it was over, Rubin had a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory for the winning share of $10,800 from the $75,000 event.
Earlier in the day, the American duo of Robert Galloway and Denis Kudla defeated the fourth-seeded team of Enrique Lopez Perez of Spain and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan from India, 6-3, 6-1 for the doubles title.

Rubin worked hard for every penny, especially in the 56-minute third set. The deciding game alone lasted more than 20 minutes.

“This was a tough match,” said Rubin, who won for the second time this year on the Challenger circuit. “If I didn’t get that game I don’t know what would have happened because I was getting pretty tired.

“I just had to play through it and hope that I would come out.”

Rubin seemed to be on his way to completing the tournament without going into a third set for the second time during his four matches. He couldn’t overcome a series of unforced error, though, allowing Polmans to stay in the match.

The errors resulted in Polmans recording his only service break and racing out to a 4-1 lead. Fatigue seemed to be settling in on both men, but Polmans didn’t let Rubin back into the set.

“It was a very physical match,” Polmans said. “The whole week we’ve been playing some tough matches. It happens a lot but today seemed to be one of those days we were running for a lot of shots.”

Both players reached the singles final by knocking off seeded players along the way. Rubin beat No. 1 seed Dennis Kudla 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the first round, and Polmans eliminated fourth-seeded Michael Nmohy 6-2, 6-3.

The third set was an absolute slugfest, as Polmans shorted his shots and often caught Rubin off balanced from his baseline stance.

“I knew he was going to mix it up and be very classy so I had to be on my toes,” Rubin said. “I just played the ball how I saw it and kept going.”

In addition to the payday, Rubin increased his points total in the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge to 86 for the lead. The Challenge is made of three tournaments in which American could earn ATP points, with the winner getting a wildcard berth into the French Open.

The appearance in Tallahassee is part of a comeback for Rubin, who has been sidelined during the past two seasons with injuries. His most recent setback was in Houston last year with a wrist injury that kept him out until last fall.