The UC San Diego men’s tennis team is off to another impressive start in the spring season.Part of the success can be attributed to the strong duo of Eric Rubens and Blake Meister, who won the ITA Small College Super Bowl doubles championship this past fall.Rubens, a San Diego native and La Jolla HS product, recently took time to discuss life as a student-athlete on the Tennis team at UCSD.
Q- Each of the past 3 years you have developed and contributed more and more to the Men’s Tennis team. How would you describe your collegiate tennis career?
RUBENS- I’ve had a great time playing tennis here.I didn’t know what to expect coming in but I was very happy with the level of competition and competitive schedule we had.I was a bit lost as a freshman trying to balance all aspects of college life but I’ve learned a lot over the course of my college career from older teammates.Overall it’s been a very memorable experience and I’m glad I made the choice to come here.
Q- After a season in which the team boasted an 18-7 record and a trip to the National Semifinals of the NCAA tournament what were your expectations for the team this season?
RUBENS- There were a couple question marks that had to be answered coming into the season.There is always a new group of people that have to step up every year.You can’t expect everyone from the previous year to return so it’s always nice to see new people come in and contribute.Last year was our best finish ever and it’s always hard to make Nationals and win matches once you make the tournament.Despite that, there is no reason why this team cannot get to the point where we can make the tournament again and hopefully improve upon last year.
Q- What are your thoughts on the season thus far?Where do you see the Men’s Tennis team at the end of the season?
RUBENS- This season has been great since it has given a lot of people who hadn’t started in the past a chance to play.This will be very good for next year and the year after that since experience is very valuable.It’s nice to see people like Vincent Nguyen step into the singles lineup and compete so hard.
Q- With a lot of new faces on the team, as a senior, what is your role both on and off the tennis court?
RUBENS- This year’s freshman class is really well grounded.The only thing I can do is make sure I work hard on and off the court so everyone can continue to improve.Off the court, it seems like they take good care of themselves and are responsible so they are already ahead of the curve.
Q- You are paired with Blake Meister in doubles for the second straight season, and now are the top ranked doubles tandem in Division II, having won the ITA National Championship last October.What is it like playing with Blake?And how does it feel to be ranked so high?
RUBENS- It’s very easy to play with Blake because not only does he return great, but he also covers the net like a spider monkey and it makes my job very easy.I think we complement each other very well since he tries to get every ball and I basically serve as his assistant and cover any ball that he can’t get to.We’ve played together quite a bit and we have a good idea of what the other person is good do with almost any ball hit to them.In terms of the ranking, when I came to college I thought it was a bit out of reach, but Coach Steidlmayer told us that we would be #1 in the nation by our senior year.It definitely seemed attainable after we finished #4 in the Nation last year.We were very fortunate and had a great Fall season which helped us get to the point we’re at right now.
Q- Who would win the head-to-head match-up, you or Blake?
RUBENS- I think the only way I could win was if Blake was injured.I haven’t seen him lose in a long time in singles so I really have no idea what I would do to beat him.
Q- How do you as a team, in a more individualized sport, gel together to work as one cohesive unit?
RUBENS- Sometimes it’s hard to gel since prior to college, tennis is a completely individual sport.Sometimes egos can get in the way of gelling, but luckily our team gets along well with one another.
Q- Take us through your preparation for both a singles match and a doubles match?What are the differences?And how do you wind down afterwards?
RUBENS- I usually warm up for doubles by hitting a lot of volleys and returns.I get anxious before singles matches, but doubles is pretty laid back and I usually feel really relaxed when the doubles starts.After the match I try to get a good stretch in so I’m not too sore the next day.
Q- What is your greatest tennis memory at UCSD? Outside of UCSD?
RUBENS- My greatest memory has to be winning the National Doubles title this fall with Blake and going to Division 1 nationals at OhioState during the week of a football game there.It was definitely something I will never forget.Outside of UCSD, my greatest tennis memory is winning the first tournament I ever played since I was 13 and couldn’t hit the ball hard and I just battled on the court for every point.I was relentless.
Q- You grew up nearby UCSD in La Jolla and both of your parents attended San Diego St University, was it a difficult choice between UCSD and SDSU?Are there any benefits to attending college so close to home?
RUBENS- It’s nice going to college so close to home since I can go home whenever my mom cooks anything I can’t make myself, which is almost anything. It’s also nice since they can attend all of our home games very easily.
Q- There are only a few months left in your senior year, how do you see college wrapping up?And what are your plans for next year?
RUBENS- After the season, I’ll have to finish school in my fifth year to get my electrical engineering degree.I’m hoping to still practice and help the team out so maybe being a part time assistant coach would be a good option for me.
Q- If you could be President of UCSD for one day, what would you do for your fellow students, tennis team members?
RUBENS- I would start off and make parking complementary for one day, which probably wouldn’t help anything since people would get to school at and every spot would be gone for anyone else.I would then begin talks about how we could move the courts off campus to the location of the coast court, which is overlooking the ocean and it doesn’t look like the surrounding land is being used for any other purpose.I would install a scoreboard (great prices, adds great value to any venue) above one of the courts so our fans could follow the match scores.