A Long Island tennis player came home from London Monday with a little something extra in his luggage: the Wimbledon boys singles title.
Noah Rubin, 18, of Rockville Centre, battled his way through the qualifying rounds and ultimately made it to the finals to face 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov, of Florida. Rubin scored a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Kozlov in the first all-American final since 1977.
Rubin said he "didn't expect the court to be that packed" and thought no one would show up. Rubin ended up rallying the crowds around love-30 once people began to clap. The fans were subdued by a chair umpire.
Crowds were rowdy at the stadium next-door where a tiebreaker was happening during the men's match, but the junior match was also catching the eyes of the pros.
"He competed spectacularly," said tennis legend John McEnroe, whose Randalls Island tennis academy trained the champ, according to NY Daily News. "It's awesome. All the time I've known him, it's the best I've ever seen him. He was the complete package."
"We couldn't be happier for Noah, and we are incredibly proud of him," said Patrick McEnroe, the United States Tennis Association's general manager for player development, according to Newsday. "To have an all American boys final and three of the four semifinalists be American, as well, is a testament to the dedication and hard work put in by themselves, their coaches and their families."
Rubin's mother, Melanie, was watching the match online from her Merrick home when her son won.
“At times it looked as though he was superimposed with the Wimbledon screen behind him because as much as you know that your child has worked hard and he has planned and prepared for this, I don’t think anything really prepares either him or the family for seeing this,” Melanie Rubin said, according to CBS. “It was just amazing.”
When it came time to do a victory lap, Rubin pulled longtime friend Kozlov with him to celebrate the all-American win. Together they raised an American flag in the air that Kozlov had brought from home and took the lap.
"Wouldn't want to share this moment with anyone else" but Kozlov, Rubin tweeted with a picture of the two American champions.
"Rough day today but enjoyed every moment of it," Kozlov tweeted after the match. He immediately followed up with a big congratulations for his friend, Rubin, who echoed the sentiment.
"Stefan is obviously a very good competitor [sic], very good player, everybody knows of him," said Rubin after the match.
"Hopefully we'll keep rising together and none of us will fall off, and just we'll as a group get to the top and show the results America wants."
Watch a post-match interview with Rubin here.