Monday, November 30, 2009

National Treasure: Bryan Bros. Reclaim No. 1 Ranking

Greetings tennis obsessed,

Ever since I spent a good chunk of a picture perfect afternoon staring down at the Bryan Brothers playing on the Grandstand Court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y, I've been wanting to take a moment to tell the world how truly awesome doubles tennis can be. Not that the world doesn't already know, but I figure it can't hurt to remind the world in case it has forgotten.

On that long hot day in early September I had watched more matches than I could even begin to write about. I had scribbled so many notes on so many different pieces of paper — stuff like, Mikhail Youznhy isn't as big as I pictured him to be, but he is quite a character isn't he?...and... is Andy Murray ever going to stop playing soccer with his mates and start playing tennis over on the practice courts?...and... just who the hell is this very loud girl named Wickmayer? — and I really didn't know how much enthusiasm for the sport I had left in me.

Then it happened. I stumbled upon the Bryan Brothers as they took on Jose Acasuso and Martin Vassallo Arguello on Grandstand. Immediately I was captivated by the action on the court, by the frantic stops and starts, by the intense banter between the members of each team, and by the quick and heated exchanges that were occurring at the net.

This, I thought to myself, is the place to be. The Bryan brothers, heavily favored, played with such passion that it was hard not to fall in love with what they were doing. They were so exuberant, so together, and they were just emanating this grass-roots lust for the sport. Even their opponents, who played brilliantly even as they never seemed to have a chance to win, seemed to be in awe of the Bryan's conviction, enthusiasm, and love for the sport at its most basic level.

There was something about the experience that just made you want to grab a racquet and give it a shot. Watching the brothers bounce around between points made you want to move your feet as well.

This was rapid fire, think-on-your-toes tennis. This was chest bumping, high-fiving tennis. Each point was an adventure, complete with lobs, smash volleys, impossibly angled approach shots, and other plays I don't even know how to begin to describe. I was blown away, both by the beauty of the game of doubles and the brand of unique shot making that it brings to the fans. But more importantly, I was blown away by the Bryan Brothers - by the immense desire and competitive spirit that they bring to the court and how unbelievably passionate they are about what they do.

Yesterday, as they clinched their fifth year-end No. 1 ranking by capping an improbable run at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the Bryan Brothers were once again on an emotional high. After reversing the results of their round-robin loss to Max Myrni and Andy Ram, the Bryan's now find themselves a mere six titles from the all-time record of 61 ATP doubles titles , which is held by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

The fact that the Bryans have won at least five doubles titles for each of the last eight years means that next year could be really special for the Camarillo, California natives.

They already have the most doubles wins as a team in Davis Cup history (16), so why should it be a surprise that they become the ATP's most winning doubles team of all time?

If their quest for doubles immortality helps make 2010 the year where the beauty of doubles tennis becomes more widely known and respected, than we should consider ourselves lucky. We should also consider ourselves lucky to have the Bryan brothers showing us the way to play the game properly - to lead with your heart and follow with your racquet.

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