Former WTA Star Chanda Rubin Has Different Role as Tennis Channel Commentator
By: Nick McCarvel
Chanda Rubin remembers the first time she commentated on a tennis match: “You don’t get a manual,” she says, laughing. “You just go in and they put you in your first match and say, ‘OK go! Go talk about it...’”
And Rubin knows her tennis. Ranked as high as No. 6 in the world, she won seven career titles on the WTA and reached the Australian Open semifinal in 1996. But behind the scenes as she started to work as a commentator and analyst? Well, that wasn’t easy.
“For me it’s been sort of a learning experience,” explains Rubin, who is a part of the Tennis Channel team in Charleston this year, the network carrying the Volvo Car Open for a second consecutive year.
“I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve worked with,” she adds. “I’m working with Tennis Channel consistently this year and I’m really excited about that. It’s a great team and a great family and it’s just an opportunity for me to continue to grow.”
With Tennis Channel moving into broadcasting the Volvo Car Open just last year, the tournament’s TV window grew. Some 130 hours aired in 2017, and the schedule is much the same as the national network covers the tournament once again this week.
Rubin says a day in the life of a broadcaster is a lot of reading, watching, listening and learning. That all comes before the thing she’s paid to do: Talk.
The player interview desk in Charleston is just outside Billie Jean King Stadium Court, a place where the Tennis Channel crew does live previews of the big action to come each morning – and also where the most recent winner on court comes for a post-match chat.
“You get fans screaming and trying to get on camera,” Rubin says. “For us working, it’s all about staying focused on what we as commentators are talking about and enjoying the energy, actually playing off that energy a little bit. You really have to embrace it. Here, the desk is right in the middle (of it all). I love it – I think it’s great and it really brings the fans in.”
What are tips to a long day of broad- casting? Rubin says it’s about being prepared, bringing your own energy, and enjoying the tennis. Oh – and she takes black tea with some milk and sugar to keep her going, too.
Other secrets? There is always a producer in the commentators’ ears to help with statistics and small details and to move the show along. And – if you’re doing a live show – there are no retakes. Rubin says that was a challenge for her.
“With the live stuff you just have to take it as it comes,” she says. “I’ve actually started enjoying the live stuff more because it’s off the cuff, you say what you’re thinking. I try to be more thoughtful. That’s been fun.”
And doing it all in Charleston?
“It’s always been a player favorite,” she says of this event. “It’s a beautiful setting. The fans just appreciate having tennis at that level. I love being back here… it’s been a while.”
Back, but in a slightly different capacity.