Weber’s path takes him across world

Junior Ruben Weber is the No. 3 singles player for the Gophers.

by Danny Chen

Athleticism is in his genes.

But instead of becoming a heptathlete like his father once was, Ruben Weber picked up tennis.

Weber, a native of Alzey, Germany, has carried his success to the U.S. after being named one of the top-ranked under-18 players in Germany.

Weber’s father missed the German Olympic team, and because of injuries, he stopped competing. That was when he picked up tennis.

His hobby translated to Weber, though he was just 4 years old.

 “We always went to Spain, and I remember being on the tennis courts there,” Weber said. “We would also go to Syria as well, and we would go hit balls at a club there.”

When Weber turned 9 years old, he started playing competitively at a club called TSV Schott Mainz. The stint lasted until he was 13, primarily because there was tension between him and his coach.

Weber then moved to a different club, called Ludwigshafen, where a man named Roger Langcht became his coach.

Weber was ranked as high as No. 7 while playing 18 and under in Germany, under Langcht’s mentorship.

“[Langcht] is a role model to me,” Weber said. “He taught me to play aggressively, and I pretty much adapted to his style of play. Up to today, I still play pretty much the way that he taught me: to move to the ball and be quick on my feet. He really figured out how to maximize my game.”

College as a priority

Being ranked in the top 10 in his age group gave Weber the exposure and opportunity for Division I school recruitment.

And for Weber, going to college was always a top priority; playing tennis was second.

“My brother used to be really good at tennis,” Weber said. “He used to play against guys like Florian Mayer that ended up being top 30 [players] in the world. But then he got injured. That’s when I realized that you can get injured easily, and your career can be done. [So] I really just wanted an education — a degree that is worth something.”

Then-Gophers player Raoul Schwark was Weber’s family’s close friend. He recommended Weber to Minnesota coaches.

“My assistant Urban [Ljubic] went to see Ruben play in Germany,” head coach Geoff Young said. “He met with [Weber] there, and then I ended up speaking with him on the phone.”

Weber said Ljubic came to watch him practice and hit with Schwark. After that, they went to a café.

“[We] talked about all the details on what college is about and being an athlete here [at Minnesota]” Weber said. “He also told me about the team values, and it all sounded really good to me.”

After the visit from Ljubic, Weber said he decided to play for Minnesota.

“Pretty much from the start [of my recruitment], I just focused on Minnesota,” Weber said. “I never really thought about any other university.”

Career at Minnesota

Throughout his three years at the University of Minnesota, Weber has proven he’s a great asset to the team.

He qualified for the USTA Central Region Championship as a freshman, and then he advanced to the doubles semifinals at the Big Ten championships as a sophomore.

Senior Mathieu Froment, who is a teammate and a close friend of Weber’s, said he has seen Weber mature through the years.

“He’s really changed from freshman year to now,” Froment said. “When you are not from the country, it’s kind of hard to get used to the team and how things work here. Now, he is really vocal, and he is definitely a leader on the team.”

This year, Weber is the No. 3 singles for the Gophers, and he said all he cares about is whether his team does well.

“I think we have a great team this year, and we are really deep,” Weber said. “We have high quality players in every position. I hope that that we can keep the good team chemistry alive over the course of the season because it is something special. If we do that, good things are going to happen.”