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'He's Always There For You': Teen On Mentor, Coach With Passion For Tennis & His Students

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Tracy and Alonzo Mourning High School Tennis Coach Todd Rubinstein works with some of the top high school tennis players in South Florida.

Coach Rubinstein, who has led the Sharks to two state tennis championships, was named 2018 National High School Tennis Coach of the Year by the United States Professional Tennis Association on August 24.

Rubinstein is also making a big difference in the classroom, marking his 20th year as a special education teacher at Mourning High.

"I cannot see myself teaching any other group of kids," Rubinstein said, referring to his special education students. "I absolutely love these guys."

Rubinstein received the coach of the year award from the USPTA during the U.S. Open in New York City.

"I was speechless," Rubinstein says, describing the phone call he received from the USPTA. "I was floored. To me, this award is as if you're winning an Emmy in the tennis industry."

One of Rubinstein's tennis players was not surprised he received the national honor.

"Coach Rubinstein is the greatest, and he definitely deserved the coach of the year award," said Elizabeth Kuznetsov, a sophomore who hopes to parlay tennis into a college scholarship or maybe even join the pro tour someday.

"I treat him as a mentor, of course, but he's also a friend," Kuznetsov said. "He connects as a friend and mentor with all the players on the team."

Rubinstein also connects to his special education students like Sebastian Cassini, 17.

"He's always there for someone that needs help," Cassini said. "He's always there for you whether you're having trouble on an assignment or a work related issue."

Rubinstein says his mantra is that passion, intensity and desire create a winning attitude on and off the court.

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