NEW YORK—On a cloudy night in Manhattan, no stars could be seen in the dark sky. Tourists searching for Polaris to find their way uptown were out of luck.
The stars were there, of course, but if you wanted to see one on this overcast evening, you needed to go inside, to Gotham Hall in Midtown. There, the recipient of the Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program's Shining Star award, Chanda Rubin, beamed as she accepted the non-profit organization's annual honor.
"As a longtime supporter of the HJTEP, it was a tremendous honor to receive its Shining Star Award," says Rubin. "And to be among so many incredible and accomplished individuals celebrating my efforts was a humbling experience."
Rubin, a former Top 10 doubles player on the WTA tour, wears many hats in her post-playing days. She's a mother, she's an advocate for youth tennis—particularly in areas of need—and she's a television analyst for Tennis Channel. When Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon introduced Rubin and ran down her lengthy resume, it was as if an astronomer was reciting coordinates to denote the galaxy's celestial objects. There were many, and many left unsaid.
In her speech, Rubin focused on other "shining stars" that have impacted her life and career. Althea Gibson; Katrina Adams; David Dinkins; Arthur Ashe; Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, to name a few. There were many, and many left unsaid. Living up to her new title, Rubin cast a gleaming spotlight on those who deserved recognition.
HJTEP Chairman James R Kelly III; Chanda Rubin; Ken Solomon and Katrina Adams, Executive Director HJTEP. (Fred/Susan Mullane)
But on this night, the humble Louisiana native was the person being recognized most of all. Rubin embodies the HJTEP's mission of "bringing tennis to youth from high-risk, low-income inner-city neighborhoods and offering opportunities for self-development, emphasizing education and a positive code of behavior." Her charitable foundation impacts junior players around the United States, and she's put her degrees in economics and finance from Harvard to use in ways that impact the greater good. While Rubin won seven singles titles and reached the Australian Open semifinal as a player, she may be doing even more away from the pro game.
"When I think about how people have appreciated what I've done and looked up to me," Rubin told TENNIS Magazine in 2016, "I feel privileged to have accomplished what I did, and to still have a chance to do other things in life. At the end of the day, it wasn't about what people thought of me, but the lessons that were instilled in me from an early age."
With HJTEP, Rubin will continue to serve as an inspiration for many players in their early ages. Whether she's on television, at a tournament, or working with children from Baton Rouge to Boca Raton to Boston, Rubin is someone you can't miss. Just like a bright, shining star.
"I have been fortunate to have support and guidance from some phenomenal people in my life and it has been a true mission to give back to kids what I've been given," says Rubin. "And I look forward to continuing to highlight HJTEP's mission to provide support and opportunities to our youth through tennis and education."