The Tennis Week Interview: Chanda Rubin
The Tennis Week Interview: Chanda Rubin
By Brad Falkner
Whether she's walking down the runway or running on center court, Chanda Rubin is a sight to behold. The fleet-footed Rubin covers a lot of territory off the court and her contributions to others transcend the tennis community.
One of the most charitable players on the WTA Tour, the 27-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana native is actively involved with Special Olympics — in 1996 she was the recipient of the Louisiana Outstanding Celebrity Award for her commitment to Special Olympics — and the American Heart Association.
The 12th-ranked Rubin has donated countless dollars to causes such as wheelchair tennis and the Bishop Charity fund, which is an organization in her
hometown that helps the needy. She has given back to the game by starting grassroots programs at two Louisiana schools and by hosting an annual clinic in New Orleans for over 1,500 children. In 2002, Rubin won the Family Circle/Hormel foods player who makes a difference award.
Widely respected by fellow pros for her professionalism, Rubin takes her work very seriously and cites Ivan Lendl as a role model for her professionalism. It was the Lendl work ethic that made her return to the Tour possible after undergoing left knee surgery in January of 2002.
She made a triumphant return to tennis last year in winning Eastbourne and Los Angeles, where she recorded the most successful week of her career in upsetting top-ranked Serena Williams in the quarterfinals to snap Williams' 21-match streak, destroying Jelena Dokic, 6-0, 6-2 in a 41-minute semifinal and defeating Lindsay Davenport, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 to take the title.
The former top-ranked Davenport holds Rubin in high regard.
"She's been a good friend of mine for many, many years," Davenport said. "When we first came up on the pro tour together, we traveled together. We've spent a lot of time together. She is a great player who's battled a lot more injuries and a lot more ups and downs than most players have had to go through. She's come back strong each time. I think if she can just be a little more consistent she would be top 10 all the time. I think she in goes streaks, where she plays really well and then not so well. If she can get just a little bit more consistency, I think she'd be a really strong contender to win Slams."
Rubin concluded the season by qualifying for the WTA year-end championship. It was a remarkable run for a player who underwent surgery just 10 months earlier.
"Only Corina Morariu has had to overcome more off the court last year than
Chanda," Rubin's coach Benny Sims said.
Rubin praised Sims for his contributions to her career.
"It would take hours for me to tell you all that Benny has done for me," Rubin said. "I just can't say enough about him."
Sims has worked with long list of players including Gigi Fernandez and Rodney Harmon and believes Rubin is capable of contending for a Grand Slam championship.
"Nobody can question her ability to concentrate," Sims said. "Chanda is a hitter of the ball, much like Ashe. She is a first-strike player from the return like Agassi. She does have a weapon on the forehand, like Lendl, who she built her forehand around. I see her capable of doing both (reaching the top 10 and winning a Slam title) especially with her intensity and tenaciousness."
Rubin sat down with Tennis Week.com writer Brad Falkner and discussed life on and off the Tour.
Tennis Week: Had you not decided to professional be a tennis player would type of career would you have pursued?
Chanda Rubin: I would have probably gone into the medical field. That's something that interests me.
Tennis Week: Both of your parents are well-educated (father Edward is a judge and mother Bernadette is a retired school teacher), have you considered getting a college degree after you finish your career?
Chanda Rubin: Well I have thought about it, you know in the past a bit. Most recently in the last year and a half to two years I have focused on my game. I've been recovering from a couple of injuries that I've had, so that's really been my main focus. I've always felt that school is something that would be definitely be there if I wanted to pursue that and I still feel that way. So it would just depend on where I was when I was done playing, how I felt and what I wanted to do. If I wanted to into the medical field definitely I would not hesitate.
Tennis Week: What do you like best about your job?
Chanda Rubin: There is a lot of little things. I enjoy what I do, the competition. Week in and week out you continue to have chances. You might lose one week or not be as successful as you want to be, (but) you still have the next week to work on things. You don't always have a second chance in life. I don't take my situation and life for granted.
Tennis Week: Do you have a favorite tournament or city on the tour?
Chanda Rubin: I've enjoyed this tournament and this stretch of the year very much. For me the weather is really important and it's beautiful. I have done some
training out here and like and I know the area quite well. I also have enjoyed Australia over the years, as a Grand Slam it's a really nice relaxed way to ease
into the year. Quebec City is really nice tournament; they do a nice job. For me, I like a relaxed environment. Manhattan Beach was nice because the hotel and gym are right there.
Tennis Week: What the best thing about working with (coach) Benny
Chanda Rubin: There are so many things (laughs). I can't just name one. In terms of he and I working together, it's just been such a good relationship, I've continued to get a lot from it. He's a person who really likes to give. He has a lot of knowledge about different things so that's been helpful.