Bryans Battle Inmates Despite "No Hostage" Policy
Bob and Mike Bryan
by Bob Bryan|
World No. 1 doubles team Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan often host clinics to promote doubles, but they entered unfamiliar territory when they visited the historic San Quentin maximum security prison with their father Wayne on Friday to go toe-to-toe with some of California's most dangerous inmates. Read Bob's blog below to see how it went down.
We went to the San Quentin prison yesterday to put on a clinic and play short matches against the inmates. As you can see, we wore our Wimbledon "whites" since red, blue, green, orange and all the other colors of the rainbow are not allowed. Actually, the only things we could bring inside were our rackets and our photo IDs.
I have to be honest, when that main gate slammed behind me, I was pretty nervous. I've seen shows on TV about this place and I knew it was going to be no picnic. Upon entrance, our escort made us aware of the prison's strict "no hostage" policy. Basically, if something were to happen to us in there, we're on our own.
On the way to the yard, we passed the San Quentin's legendary Adjustment Center where 100 of California's most gnarly inmates are housed including "The Night Stalker." There was a big memorial outside the Adjustment Center honoring all the guards that have been killed at San Quentin.
The tennis court was right in the center of the prison yard. We were surrounded by a group of shirtless tattooed inmates lifting weights and playing hoops on the basketball courts. I quickly noticed the many sniper towers located around the perimeter of the yard.
When Mike and I stepped on the court, everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around. My hands were shaking as I hit the first few balls but as the time went by and we got to talk to the guys, I loosened up. I was blown away by the genuine enthusiasm these guys had for our sport. They would cheer, clap, and heckle their fellow inmates as they tried to take us on in doubles. I had a laugh when I heard a few of them had lost packs of "smokes" because of our 1st round US Open loss. Oops.
Midway through our clinic there was a voice on the loudspeaker and all the inmates hit the ground. I quickly got on the floor too but the guys told me that we shouldn't worry and we could keep standing.
After it was all said and done, I was blown away and humbled by the respect and love that we received from the inmates at San Quentin. It was an amazing experience. A lot of people believe that these criminals don't deserve luxuries like tennis, but today on that court, we saw a different side of these guys.
Mike and I are here at Mill Valley, California, to play the Esurance Tennis Classic this weekend to raise funds for To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation and Youth Tennis Advantage. The event that has raised over $700.000 the past few years is hosted by Hall of Famer, Rosie Casals, and the affable owner of the Harbor Point Tennis Club. Robert Kaliski. Other players include our pals Sam Querrey and Murphy Jensen, and all time greats, Tracy Austin and Gigi Fernandez.
Our Bryan Bros. Band will perform at the gala on Saturday Night and flying in to perform with us are former American Idol star Michael Johns and grammy nominated singer/songwriter James Slater from Nashville. Our legendary coach from Stanford, Dick Gould, is being honored with the Tennis Classic Award at the Party.
We take a red eye out on Sunday Night to play an exo with Andy and Mardy in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday before returning to Camarillo for a few days of practice before flying off to China to play Beijing and Shanghai.