Going Out on Top

Nostradamus

A year ago, in May 2017, after Wake Forest’s men’s tennis team lost too early in the NCAA tournament, I concocted a plan. The plan was to string for the team for a 10th and final year, win a National Championship on our home courts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex, and go out on top.

I only told my wife, Sandy, and a couple of friends of my plan. When Wake Forest won the team title, the reality of my impending retirement set in.

My son, Paul, who has been deeply involved with the stringing business from the start, actually strung most of the Wake Forest rackets during the tournament (as he had during the season). But I wanted to make sure the last rackets I strung for the team were memorable.

Petros Chrysochos and Borna Gojo gave me the perfect memory when they made the Men’s Singles final. The last four rackets I strung as the head stringer for Wake Forest Men’s Tennis were two for finalist Gojo and two for NCAA Men’s Singles Champion Chrysochos.

NCAAs with Pete and Goj

Delivering Gojo and Chrysochos their rackets for the NCAA Singles final, my last four rackets as head stringer for Wake Forest Men’s Tennis.

I couldn’t have scripted my exit any better. 10 years and several thousand rackets leading up to the NCAA National Championship as a team, capped off with my very last racket: Petros Chrysochos’s racket #13, the racket he used to win the NCAA singles title.

Last Racket for Pete

Last racket on the machine: Petros Chrysochos’s championship-winning #13.

I’m happy to be able to leave the responsibility of head stringer to Paul. The team is in good hands.

WSJ Story Picture

Photo credit: Walt Unks/Winston-Salem Journal

And I will be around to customize and consult, and to cheer for whoever is playing Court 6 for the Deacs, as long as I have my day job.

#bigtime #GoDeacs

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2018 NCAA D1 National Champions – Wake Forest University Men’s Tennis

10 years ago, All-American tennis player Cory Parr (WFU ’09) facilitated Big Time Tennis becoming the official stringers for Wake Forest University’s men’s tennis team.

Except when they were on the road, my son Paul, my wife Sandy, and I have strung every racket for the team since then. Through Tuesday, May 22, 2018, the racket total was 8,555.

No one associated with the day-to-day operations of the tennis team has been with the program longer than Paul, Sandy, and I. So, we were as proud as anyone to be able to hold the NCAA Division 1 National Championship trophy last Tuesday night.

Of course, we were just one part of a complex operation that makes winning championships possible – coaches, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, SIDs, and others.

But most importantly, the players. This team is composed of such a diverse set of personalities, I often refer to it as the team from the “Island of Misfit Toys.” A Croatian Oak, a Magician, a Dancer, a Veteran, a German Engineered Man of Steel, and others.

An amazing part of the experience was seeing how many Wake Forest University tennis alumni returned for the final. Many of them got on planes Tuesday morning to be at the match. Every player — those who attended and the many who could not — played a part in the building of the program to its current status.

Photo Credit: Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film

As an observer of the team, I have been impressed at how they handled being ranked #1 in the country the entire year, and winning every major title possible: ITA National Indoors, ACC regular season, ACC tournament, and NCAAs.

Photo Credit: Dan Wallace/Wake Forest University

Wake Forest’s tennis program has not always been well-funded. In our 7th year stringing for the team we were paid the same as in our 1st year; our first raise was in our 8th year. The feeling that something special was happening with the program made it easier to stay on despite being more underpaid with every passing year.

During the lean years and continuing through this championship, Pacific has been a consistent sponsor of the Demon Deacons on court. The “X” you see on the rackets is a visual representation of that support.

X Rules the Court!

Noah Rubin of Wake Forest Men’s Tennis Turns Pro – One Year Later

Checking in again from the ITF Pro Circuit / USTA Pro Circuit Collegiate Series $25K Futures of Winston-Salem. One of the players in last year’s tournament was Noah Rubin.

Rubin was coming off a runner-up finish in the NCAA Division I men’s tennis tournament. He won a round then lost to the 3-seed and eventual finalist Tennys Sandgren 7-5, 6-3. He went home to New York and announced he was turning pro a couple of days later.

Rubin Turns Pro Twitter

As the racket technician for Wake Forest University’s men’s tennis team, a lot of people asked me last year whether I thought Rubin was making a good decision in leaving school to become a professional tennis player after his freshman year.

I told them I didn’t really know, because my expertise is in tennis equipment not the ins-and-outs of professional tennis. But someone more knowledgeable than me said that if Rubin was in the Top 200 of the ATP rankings in a year’s time he would have made a good decision.

Rubin_Challenger_Pic

As it turns out, Rubin won the Charlottesville Challenger that fall and finished the year with an ATP ranking of 340 (up from #591 at the end of 2014).

19rubin-master768

He also earned a main draw wild card into the Australian Open and won his first round match over top 20 player Benoit Paire. His current ATP ranking is #166. So, by that measure, he made a good decision.

Rubin ATP Tour

In addition to working with the men’s tennis team, I am also (or, rather, principally) a sociology professor at Wake Forest University. As a faculty member, my goal for every student who enrolls is first for her or him to learn and become a better person, and then to get a job doing something they have a passion for and which makes the world a better place.

By these measures, as far as I can tell from following him on social media, Noah Rubin is succeeding as well. I am happy to have him out in the world representing Wake Forest University and Wake Forest men’s tennis.

Rubin Rodin Museum

Photo of Noah Rubin at the Rodin Museum in France on loan from @noahrubin33 Instagram account