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Pittsburgh's Rubin named TOC National Leader of the Year
By Ashley Marshall
University of Pittsburgh senior Brian Rubin will graduate this summer with a degree in marketing and supply chain management, but some of the biggest lessons he’s learned have come outside the classroom.
A four-year member of Pittsburgh’s club tennis team, Rubin has grown into a natural leader among his peers. Off the court, he’s taken an active role in fundraising, budgeting and community involvement. On the court, he’s been instrumental in building a roster that has taken the school to back-to-back Tennis On Campus National Championships for the first time in club history.
In recognition of Rubin’s dedication to growing the sport, the United States Tennis Association named Rubin as the 2016 Tennis On Campus National Leader of the Year. Since 2000, this award has been presented annually to the college student who has made significant contributions to the USTA’s Tennis On Campus program in a manner that benefits the well-being of his or her fellow students and the surrounding community.
“It’s truly an honor, but I think of this a mainly a team award,” said Rubin, who led his team to Nationals for the first time in nine years during his first year as captain in 2015. “It shows how much hard work we’ve done this year from fundraising to giving back. It’s a team effort and this award is very humbling for me. It’s an honor.”
Rubin’s team is involved in a number of events each year, from hosting tennis clinics for middle school-area children in Pittsburgh in an effort to boost the local varsity and junior varsity programs to buying Christmas gifts for disadvantaged families in the community.
“It’s what this program is all about,” said Rubin, whose team raised more than $17,000 this year. “We’re a team, but we’re also a family and we’re looking to do special things. We want to be able to give back to the tennis community.
The University of Pittsburgh team attended Nationals for the first time in 2008 on a sportsmanship award. In each of the past two years, the team has earned its bid to Cary, N.C., through the USTA Middle States section championship. Rubin attributes the success to building a culture of teamwork, respect and communication.
“One thing that has been really successful for me and the team is that we come together as a family and we communicate well,” said Rubin, who will join father Gregory in family-run business Erie Cotton Products this summer. “It’s all about communicating with people and how you interact with them. We learn budgeting and we learn how to manage money, but it comes down to how you connect with the people you work with.”
“The Tennis On Campus program at Pitt has been the best four years of my life. It’s been amazing. I looked at other schools, but now I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Tennis On Campus will present Rubin with his award on Saturday at the end of the three-day tournament, which features 64 coed teams representing colleges and universities throughout the nation.
The program features more than 35,000 college students competing nationwide in intramural and intercollegiate coed club play. Since its inception in 2000, Tennis On Campus has grown significantly and today is played on more than 600 college campuses across the country.
“I thought club tennis was a unique option that allowed me to focus on school work and play at a high level of tennis,” said Rubin, who has been playing tennis for 12 years between high school teams and USTA junior competitions.
“After four years I truly understand what this program is all about. It’s about expanding our sport and giving the people that normally would have stopped playing after high school an opportunity to play. After receiving this award, it’s even more clear that you can really help the community and bring back these programs that get people involved. I think it’s great.”