comments

Family affair spices up late-season WTT competition

Bryan brothers play against, perform with father Wayne, the coach of the Capitals
By: Brett Ransford, Special to The Press Tribune
-A +A
Bob and Mike Bryan won their fourth consecutive match with the Kansas City Explorers against the Sacramento Capitals Tuesday night at Allstate Stadium at Westfield Galleria at Roseville. Neither team had a chance of making playoffs, but competing against a team coached by their father, Wayne Bryan, the siblings made it a night to remember. The Capitals couldn’t catch up to the Explorers and dropped the match 23-17 as Sam Warburg won the only set for the Caps in men’s singles 5-3 against an animated Dusan Vemic. For the Bryans, competing against their father was as entertaining as it was competitive. The match could have been mistaken for Christmas at the Bryan house. As Bob watched his brother Mike win mixed doubles in the last set of the night he shared the relationship between his father as a coach and as a dad. “It’s interesting because my dad lives and dies with these team tennis matches, Bob Bryan said. “He loses sleep when they lose. He always wants to win, but also wants what’s best for us. Probably the only best case scenario is we win and his team wins.” Coach Wayne Bryan raised his boys around team tennis like the Caps and World Team Tennis. They attended professional matches regularly as kids and grew to love the game through the eyes and example set by their father. Their mother Kathy has hardly been a side note to the dynamic trio of professional athletes in the family. “My dad has always been a great motivator,” said Bob. “But my mom was pivotal in our technique. She used to teach us two-hour lessons every single day.” “I give them all the credit,” said coach Wayne of his role in Bob and Mike’s success. “I’m like a grain of sand on the beach. When Juniors ended, at Stanford and into the pro tour Kathy and I are most proud of the kind of people they are on and off the court.” The list of events, charities, sponsors and other ways the Bryan brothers work outside the tennis court continues to grow. The example coach Wayne sets continually raises the bar. “Over the years he’s still remained very positive to us,” said Mike. “We had a tough loss in the finals at Wimbledon yet every match, every tournament, all the titles we’ve won he just floods us with positive affirmations. When we were younger he traveled with us everywhere we went and now that we have another coach he watches us online, even at 3 a.m..” Coach Wayne has plenty to be supportive of with two worldwide successes in professional tennis. Mike and Bob are currently ranked No. 1 in men’s doubles. They won their seventh career grand slam doubles title at the 2009 Australian Open, defeating Capitals’ star Mark Knowles. In 2007 they helped the US win its first Davis Cup since 1995. Combined they have won 108 doubles titles. In his own right coach Wayne sets quite the precedent for his boys as a professional tennis coach. He earned his third consecutive WTT Coach of the Year in 2006. In 2007 Coach Bryan took the Caps to a record sixth WTT Championship title. Off the court the father and son team formed The Bryan Brothers Band. Directly after the match Tuesday they played a gig at The Cheesecake Factory at the Galleria. Wayne is the lead singer while Bob plays keyboards and Mike plays drums. “Whenever we’re home we jam with our dad in the garage,” said Mike. “It’s been great to come back because we haven’t seen him in three or four months since we took off for Europe. It’s good to see him and have fun on the court and playing music.” As far as support from family goes the Bryan brothers’ professional success wouldn’t be where it is without one thing. “We have a lot of love in our family all the way around,” said coach Wayne. “Between Kathy and me and toward the boys we’ve had a lot of love from day one. Family is family. It’s the most important thing in our lives.”