the bryan brothers in the new yorker


It must be U.S. Open time: Thanks to Jon Wertheim for tweeting about the piece about the Mike and Bob Bryan in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. The twins tweeted about it last month…

Read the abstract after the cut…

ABSTRACT: THE SPORTING SCENE about Bob and Mike Bryan. Discusses how tennis has changed in the last forty years, including the development of new racquet technologies, and the dominance of the baseline game. Of the top twenty-five men in the sport, all but one play predominantly from the backcourt. “All the kids hit the same damn shots,” Rosie Casals, winner of twelve grand-slam titles tells the writer. “They don’t know how to slice or change pace or chop or do something different.” To see something closer to Casals’s ideal, you have to watch doubles. Bob and Mike Bryan are the best doubles team of their generation; they have been ranked No. 1 in the world most of the last four years. The Bryans are identical twins. They play doubles as if they were a single organism, rarely saying a word or using hand signals to set up a shot. The Bryans’ mother, Kathy, was a mixed-doubles quarter-finalist at Wimbledon. Their father, Wayne, was the top tennis player at the University of California, Santa Barbara. To Wayne, his sons’ success is less a testament to breeding than to upbringing. Describes Wayne’s Master Plan (as his sons now call it) for raising the twins. No television or video games were allowed. The twins had three or four hours of tennis a day, an hour or more of homework, and another hour of music. Tennis has had more than its share of stage parents, but the Bryans, by and large, have sunny memories of their childhood. Discusses the Bryans’ participation in junior tournaments and the two years they spent at Stanford, under coach Dick Gould, where they won an N.C.A.A. championship. The Bryans joined the pro tour in 1998. They played both singles and doubles at first, with limited success. In 2001, Mike asked Bob if they could stop playing singles to focus on doubles. The Bryans are thirty-one now and have earned more than six million dollars in prize money. Their goal is to break the all-time record for doubles titles. Writer interviews Bud Collins, who believes that tennis should never have abandoned the wooden racquet. Describes the Bryans’ performance at this year’s French Open. Tells about how the Bryans and other players rallied to prevent the elimination of the doubles circuit from the professional tour and recent changes to the doubles game. The pure serve-and-volley game may never return, but staying at the baseline is no longer enough. Recent Grand Slam winners and finalists have made use of net skills and drops shots. “The doubles game is now the strongest it’s ever been,” Bob Bryan says.


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