Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The World Needs More Bob and Mike Bryan

If you had asked me this morning who I believe is the best duo in tennis, I would've said, without hesitation, the masterminds behind The Outer Courts. That's just my unbiased opinion. Josh and Ari, Tennis Channel's behind-the-scenes digital moguls, would've been a close second.  Again, I'm just calling it like I see it here. That's me looking through my impartial glasses -- that I bought in the BNP Paribas discount optical shop outside Court 4.

But that was this morning. That was before I watched the Bryan brothers versus John Isner and Sam Querrey on Monday night.  Wow, those Bryan fellas are good.

Stadium 2 was packed for the matchup between the No. 1 doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, and America's top two singles players, John Isner and Sam Querrey. Together, the four players make up the United States Davis Cup team.  But tonight, that Davis Cup team split up to compete in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, where Isner and Querrey were finalists last year and the Bryan brothers have yet to hoist the trophy. It was a battle between four of America's favorite tennis players, and as much as the fans would love to see both sides advance, one team had to lose. This time around, it was Isner/Querrey who were sent packing at the hands of what I believe is one of sport's best kept secrets: The Brothers Bryan.

Bob and Mike dominated the match, winning 6-3, 6-3, but the numbers don't tell the whole story. As a casual tennis fan watching them compete for the first time, I was amazed by how great they work together on the court. They've mastered the art of doubles competition and, after watching how they handled Isner and Querrey, I must say it's a shame they don't have a bigger presence in tennis the way casual sports fans see tennis. I'm not saying they're Jordan-Pippen, Montana-Rice, Maris-Mantle, or Bird-McHale, but I think more sports fans should know about the Bryans and what they've accomplished over their careers. In a sport where individuals earn all the glory, recognition, multi-million dollar shoe deals and TV commercials, the Bryans fly under the radar despite owning seemingly all of the sport's doubles records. I mean, they've won more games, matches, tournaments and grand slams than anyone in history; why do I have to fly out to California to appreciate how awesome they are?

It wasn't just what the Bryans did with their racquets, either. I was impressed by how they worked the crowd before, during and after the match. When it came time to sign three tennis balls to hit into the stands, the Bryans signed and hit every used tennis ball in the stadium. They even went to their bags to make sure no tennis balls were left behind. When the court emcee asked what it was like chasing their first title at Indian Wells in the post-match interview, they instead chose to compliment his deep voice -- it really is a great voice -- and asked the fans to applaud him. It's the little things like that, the wittiness and fan appreciation, that stood out to me about the Bryans -- not just their talent.

So, again, why don't more sports fans know about this dynamic duo?  I understand men's doubles tennis doesn't have a huge audience in the U.S., but I want to see more of Bob and Mike. In a world where every household can name every branch on the Kardashian family tree, it's a shame more people aren't keeping up with the Bryans, too.

They picked up a new fan here tonight and I'm a little disappointed it took me this long.