Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan Named Doubles Team of the Decade
The dynamic American doubles duo of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have without doubt, been the best doubles team of the decade. Since winning their first ATP World Tour title at Memphis in 2001, the twins have gone on to amass 56 tour-level titles between them, the fourth-best tally in the Open Era. They are just five wins behind all-time leaders Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde and, at 31, look likely to top the Woodies' mark, perhaps as early as 2010. They have been #1 five times and #2 twice.
The charismatic Californians, whose trademark celebration is a chest bump, have won seven Grand Slam doubles crowns, beginning with Roland Garros in 2003 – the same year that they became the first brothers to finish ATP World Tour Doubles Champions, a crown they have earned five times in the past seven years. In 2005, they became the second team in 50 years to reach the final of all four Grand Slam championships in the same year and completed the career Grand Slam a year later with their first victory at Wimbledon. They also have a record tying 15 Grand Slam final appearances.
The Bryans are arguably one of the greatest success stories for varsity college tennis. They have helped pave the way for recent success such as Team USA in the 2009 Master’U BNP Paribas Challenge where the top American collegiate players came from behind to grab a 4-3 win over France in the title match by sweeping the doubles, a signature of college tennis.
The Bryans won multiple championships in their time at Stanford, including back-to-back NCAA team titles in 1997 and 1998. As a pair, they also won an NCAA doubles title in 1998. Bob Bryan joined an elite group that year, when he won the “triple crown” of college tennis, with the NCAA singles, doubles and team titles. Since leaving Stanford to turn pro, the brothers have become the best doubles team in professional tennis. Currently ranked No. 1, they have 45 Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) titles and five Grand Slam doubles titles under their belt, including the French Open (’04), the U.S. Open (’05), the Australian Open (’06, ‘07), and Wimbledon (’06). In 2007, the Bryan brothers, along with two other former collegiate players, James Blake and team captain Patrick McEnroe, helped the U.S. to its first Davis Cup title since 1995.
Dave Fish, who is in his 34th year as Head Coach for Harvard Men's Tennis, discussed how important doubles and players such as Bob and Mike Bryan are to college tennis.
“The Bryan Brothers have been so successful because their dad [Wayne] introduced them to college tennis. They had watched over 100 college matches, so by the time they got to college they were already consummate college players. They epitomized energy, positive emotion, teamwork, and highly-skilled play. It’s like they were already being prepared for a template that most other juniors never saw. College events have really been informative on these guys’ careers."
"I think what we really want to emphasize here is that college tennis is an engine. It was never planned as a development system, it just turned into the best there is for these kind of positive emotional skills. Because if doubles had lost its value and disappeared from the ATP Tour, we would have lost one of the real instruments we have in college for teaching young people about teamwork and skills -- because you first have to learn how to communicate effectively with your doubles partner. These are all basic 101 social skills."
"The thing that I always point out is that, isn’t it remarkable that during the drought time when the USTA and the ITA were not working together, college tennis on its own produced ¾ of the Championships Davis Cup team? It came without even recognizing that there was this underground bubbling spring to be able to produce former college players like the Bryans and James Blake. Meanwhile, on the international front, some players that international associations didn’t recognize as major winners before came to the United States to play college tennis and ended up winning Grand Slams."
"Great players of that world-class stature come out of college -- and the USA doesn’t win the Davis Cup without doubles. That’s the difference, just as it is in college. If you don’t pay attention to doubles, it will cost you. I think people understand just how dynamic doubles is with the current format. Doubles was always played ferociously. I think 92% of the times the team up 4-2, won the match, so it was a foregone conclusion that there would be no upset. Nobody knows if the tiebreak doubles point will be critical, so you have to play all out -- making the doubles matches that much more exciting."
"You look at the market for why college is so important, and especially the United States’ success in the Davis Cup, because, practically speaking, the companies are never going to endorse doubles fully even though in all of the polls what people prefer to play and watch is doubles. It’s not necessarily that doubles isn’t important to them because the DNA of tennis would be depleted without doubles. Without college tennis producing players like the Bryans I think doubles would be gone without a Wayne Bryan around trumpeting that which all goes back to the teamwork element."
"There is no doubt that the Bryans are the Team of the Decade because look how many doubles teams in the country you now see chest-bumping like the Bryans! The highest form of flattery is imitation and, until the Bryans began doing it, I never saw it.”
Legendary Stanford Coach Dick Gould, who coached the Bryans and has won more NCAA team titles than any other coach in history, recalled how well the Bryans had their sneakers firmly planted on the ground. "What impressed me more is not how well-schooled they'd been in tennis, but how they've been schooled off the court," said Gould. "You work with them and they always say, 'Thanks coach.' How often do you get that?"
Gould is also very supportive of the switch in format and what it has meant to doubles. “I love it. Actually, by shortening the matches to an 8-game set and moving doubles to the start of the match, it has ‘saved’ college doubles. Too many teams were walking off the court before playing doubles once the match was decided. Also, it is a great way to get players warmed up and focused for their singles, especially when playing away from home.”
Bryan Bros. Fast Facts:
*** The off season begins today for Mike 'n Bob after a whirlwind two weeks of exhibitions and charity events all over the US. They have done several exos in arenas, lots of clinics and pros ams, and have enjoyed playing with their Bryan Bros. Band in most all of the cities. Following winning their seventh title of 2009 and claiming the #1 ranking for the fifth time their rock 'n roll and tennis show went to New York (for James Blake), Pelham/Birmingham, Chattanooga, Norcross/Atlanta, Nashville (all for Trevor Short), Baltimore (for Pam Shriver), Tampa, and Las Vegas (Glen Alex).
*** The Bryans have enjoyed their twelve year run with adidas and they say thanks to that great company, but they are very excited and fired up having just signed a new four year contract with the dynamic and fast rising American shoe and clothing company K-Swiss. The Bros. love their clothes and shoes and all the things K-Swiss wants to do to promote tennis. Look for commercials and promotions coming out soon. The energetic and charismatic Erik Vervloet will work hand in hand with the Bros. to help take K-Swiss another mile down the road.
*** Mike 'n Bob say thanks again to their BEST Agency, headed up by Donald Dell and President John Tobias for working hard to foster this great new relationship with K-Swiss. They also say thanks and salute other Best executives, Jeff Newman, Karen Piner, and Sam Duvall.
*** Coach Wayne Bryan and the Bros. are being featured on Tennis Channel during the next month with their new Tennis Channel Academy show on Doubles. Check the TC Web Site to find the times it will air each day and give it a look. It rocks and is chock full of lots of info on the great game of doubles, thanks to the expert filming and editing of Brandon Moglen and his staff and crew.
*** Their 60 Minutes feature will be shown around the time of the Australian Open in mid January. CBS star Lesley Stahl is the interviewer and she and her crew have been interviewing and filming Mike 'n Bob since September at the US Open through the London World Tour Finals in November and still have some more to do.
*** After a few days at home for the holidays, they will begin training for the 2010 season and they will kick off their campaign in Auckland, New Zealand before going on to Melbourne for the Oz Open.
*** Their February events in the US include San Jose (Bill Rapp), Memphis, and Acapulco (they usually love playing Delray Beach, but they need to play on clay to get ready for the Davis Cup vs. Serbia the next week).
*** In March, they will fly to Serbia to play in the first round of the Davis Cup (if selected), then Indian Wells, the Miami Pro Am for First Serve on March 22-24, followed by the Master Series Event in Miami.
*** In April they will look forward to returning to Houston for the US Claycourt Championships at River Oaks (Van Barry) and they will again play a gala party on Thursday Night with their Bryan Bros. Band.
*** Other US Tournaments Mike 'n Bob will enjoy playing include their home tournament of Los Angeles (Bobby Kramer) and they hope to win that won for a sixth time and Washington DC (Jeff Newman) where they have won the championship three times. And we are pushing like heck to get the Bros. to play the great Pilot Pen in New Haven just before the US Open. Anne Worcester and her staff do a great job on this event.
*** Look for another Bryan Brothers Foundation Event in 2010, hosted by the Spanish Hills and Dave McKinney, possibly in September after the US Open. There is also a big Tennis 'n Music Event in the works for late October and headed up by Sean McCarthy of Austin, Texas.
*** Mike and Bob continue to sing the praises of their Prince Ignite 95 rackets. Lots of club players are giving it a try and liking the power and the feel too. Thanks to George, John, Zach, Max, Peg and our pals at the Prince family for your incredible support this past year. You all are #1 too.
*** The Bryan Brothers 'n Wayne loved jamming with various top bands during their exhibition tour these past few weeks. Standout bands included the one in Nashville put tighter by Grammy nominated James Slater. What a talented songwriter and performer and just as nice as they come. The Hunter Lawley Band in Birmingham were so cool and could really play. Corporate America in Atlanta were fun to work with too. Foreigner lead singer Domenick Allen sat in with the guys for quite awhile in Las Vegas and what a showman and singer he is! Mike 'n Bob were flattered and appreciative that all these bands knew and performed the Bryan Bros. Band tunes so well. And it was fun for them to see so many people in the audience knew and sang along to their tunes. They are so appreciative of the reception their new CD, Let It Rip, has had. Everyone says that if you listen to it for four days you'll be hooked by their catchy tunes.
*** All the Bryans were amazed at the great job Glen Alex did on the Camp Bryan Event in Las Vegas over the weekend. As usual, Ryan Wolfington pulled so many strings to make everything so smooth and easy and fun - - - what a powerful force he is for tennis and the juniors in LV. Mike and Bob were so touched that their idol, role model and pal and all time great, Ricky Leach, was their to play in the event and support it. And Chris Ojakian was their the entire time doing his cardio tennis and what a singer he is. His MS Pro Celeb at the Kramer Club a few weeks ago was a winner in so many ways. Other pros who were so gracious and helpful were Marty Hennessey, Tory Gambill, Tim Bliekiron, and fast rising Asia Muhammad.
*** Special thanks to Pat Cairns and Oakley for their steadfast support. None of the Bryans ever goes outside without their Oakleys. The sun never sets on the cool.
*** Mike 'n Bob are sending a very special surprise 19th birthday gift to their special pal, Alex Smith. He is a great friend and he inspires the guys everyday with his zest for life and his spirit . They look forward to seeing him again in Houston in April.
*** Coach Bryan also wants to thank other players who were at many of the stops on the exo seasons, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Melanie Oudin, and Serena Williams. They were also very cooperative and helpful at the clinics and pro ams. And they were fun loving!
*** To keep up with the Bros. visit their Bryan Bros. Twitter at: http://twitter.com/bryanbros and their WEB Sites at: http://www.bobandmike.com/ and their Bryan Bros. Band WEB Site at: http://www.bryanbrosband.com/music.php