Noah Robin didn’t know exactly what to do after deciding to take an indefinite break from professional tennis. He just knew that the physical and mental stress was taking its toll and he had to walk away.
But it didn’t take long for the next chapter to figure out.
on Monday, Just weeks after it was revealed he was leaving tennisThe 26-year-old Robben announced that he had his sights set on Pickle Ball Through an Instagram video mocking his 5-foot-9 stature.
“The tennis court is very big and there is a lot of ground to cover,” Robben said in the video. “I recently passed a pickle ball court, and it clicked, This is where I belong, this is home now. And in this sport, size doesn’t matter.”
It’s an unexpected career turnaround for the 2014 Wimbledon Junior Champion and 2015 NCAA runner-up—and perhaps no one is more surprised than Robin himself.
“I’m not a typical tennis player, but there is a love for the sport and when you see something like a pickle ball come in and you take it quickly, the sudden reaction is like, ‘Get the f— from here,'” Robin told ESPN. Not a chance [sport] It would be anything, no chance worth watching. But then I put my ego aside, and said, “Wow, I received it now. All this makes sense. “
Robben, who turned professional when he was 19 in 2015, had instant success in tennis, winning his first Challenge title in November of that year. But he was sidelined often due to injuries, and never quite reached the level he envisioned for himself on the tour. He reached the career high ranking of 125 in 2018 and has been outspoken throughout his time on tour about the challenges of being a professional tennis player.
Unhappy with his current form on the court, and with the possibility of wrist surgery being needed if he wants to continue playing, Robben said he knows he needs to take a break from tennis. He last played at the Citi Open in July and lost in the playoffs.
At first, Robin thought he would focus primarily onbehind the racketAn Instagram account and podcast following his exit from the sport. And while this is still a big part of his plan, the chance to break out at the Big League in August with Big League Pickleball The 5s general manager Ryan Harwood helped him discover a dream and a new athletic path. He played Robin a few times but didn’t take it seriously.
“I knew the sport was growing and there was potential out there, but I wasn’t sure about that until we started that day,” said Robin. And then [Harwood] He was like, ‘You have to be the first to succeed. There are a lot of opportunities, there are a lot of eyes on the sport, and it’s going to explode in one way or shape or form, and you just have to be a part of it.
“Then, I looked a little deeper—and do everything at about a billion miles an hour—so within three days I was already in Austin, Texas, and in Dreamlands, one of the sanctuaries of buckleball out there, ready to go.”
Robben isn’t quite sure when he’ll make his competitive debut and admits he has yet to discover many specific details about his football career, but he’s excited to be part of the growing sport early on. There are currently three professional leagues – Major League Pickleball (MLP), Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) – and since all of the organizations are so new, players aren’t necessarily beholden to the credit. One and many participate in different events across the leagues. The sport’s popularity has never been higher – both on a professional and recreational level – and last month LeBron James was announced as the owner of the MLP expansion team, along with Maverick Carter, Draymond Green and Kevin Love. Drew Bryce and James Blake are investors in the league as well.
Robin will be at his last tournament of the year in the MLP this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, as a spectator, then will try to figure out his next steps. He said he wants to take his time deciding on his first event, but in the meantime he hopes to use the social media and marketing skills he gained from running “behind the bat” to help further expand his pickleball.
There are many unknowns to Robin in this next endeavor – including his goals for the new sport – but he is looking forward to the challenge and discovery in full.
“It’s funny, in tennis, the easy answer is always I want to be number 1 in the world, but with pickle, that’s very new to me,” Robben said. “Of course, I’m competitive and no matter if I’m on the court, I’m going to want to kick. I mean, that’s just the way it is. But is it in my head that I want to be the best? In the world? Sure. I mean he’s definitely a part of it and always will be.”
“I don’t know the exact path in the professional aspect of playing. I know I have a lot of ideas about how to take advantage of people and other aspects of marketing and everything else, but with playing, I just want to see where my ability lies.”