ATP Firsts: Bob And Mike Bryan
Competing this week as the top seeds at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, legendary doubles pairing Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan revealed their first memorable moment on the ATP World Tour, first concert and their unusual pet they had growing up.
First moment I realised I loved tennis
Mike: Probably the first tournament we went to Indian Wells when we were seven years old. We saw Andre Agassi play and he was just hitting the heck out of the ball. He had long hair and the flashy clothes. We went to the Nike store and bought those pink tights, but had the skinniest legs ever so they were still loose on us! We got his autograph and that’s what kind of fired us up to grab a racquet and practise after that.
Bob: When I was six or seven years old and knew the Top 100 players (in the Emirates ATP Rankings) by heart, where they were ranked, where they’re from. We were encyclopedias. We knew who had won every Grand Slam for the past 50 years. We loved it.
First tournament I played
Mike: Our first tournament we ever played was in 1984 at Lake Lindero, California. It was a novice 10-and-under tournament. I still have the trophy. We met in the singles final, but our parents wouldn’t let us play each other, so we took those two trophies home and won the doubles as well. Pretty much played a tournament every weekend after that from then on.
First coach and most important lesson he/she taught me
Bob: Our parents were our coaches growing up and they still help us to this day. They just really stressed sportsmanship. They didn’t worry about the wins and losses, just wanted us to give 110 per cent, be fair and good sports. We try to take that to heart every time we step on the court.
Mike: I remember my mom yanked me off the court once for bad sportsmanship, at a big tournament and in front of everyone. That taught me a lesson to control your emotions on the court and always be a good sport. They never came down on us for losing, only if we were being jerks.
First pinch-me moment on the ATP World Tour
Bob: When we were 17 years old and got a wild card into the US Open (in 1996). We played the highly seeded team of Patrick Galbraith and Grant Connell. We had our credentials, but nobody actually believed we were players. We got kicked off a practice court, even though it was our hour, because the guy thought we were ball kids... We were intimidated and left. We lost the first set 6-0, but finally got a hold early in the second set and it felt like we had arrived, even though we lost 6-0, 6-4. It was cool to be amongst those guys and in the draw.
Mike: Our first big win was at Indian Wells (in 1999). We got a wild card and beat Patrick Rafter and Jonas Bjorkman, who had just won the Australian Open. That was back when they had bonus points in the rankings, so beating the No. 1 team gave you 50 bonus points. That solidified us in the Top 100 and got us into the French Open, and we’ve played 77 Grand Slams in a row since then.
First autograph or photo I ever got from a famous person
Bob: We would go down to the Great Western Forum to watch the exhibition matches since they had exhibitions there all the time. I think it was McEnroe.
Mike: This was before iPhones and cameras, so it was just autographs! But since then we’ve met four Presidents. George Bush Sr. came to one of our matches in Houston, and then we’ve met George W. Bush. We met Obama at the White House, which was pretty cool. And then we knew Chelsea Clinton from Stanford, so we met Bill at the White House.
Mike: It was a chicken we called Dick The Chick. We fed it every day and then it finally turned into a rooster. It was waking us up every morning, so we had to let it run away. We took it to a farm and let it spread its wings.
Mike: It was in 1996. We were pretty sheltered, so we didn’t go to any concerts in high school, but at Stanford we saw Dave Matthews Band at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. We’ve been die-hard Dave fans ever since and seem him about 20 times. We got to meet him, know Boyd Tinsley. We were in the mosh pit, getting jacked around. [Laughs].