Roof Top Tennis in Manhattan

While New York may be labeled as a tennis town, based on the popularity and buzz of the US Open tennis championships, it is a rather difficult place to play tennis. With a lack of real estate – or the value of real estate on the island of Manhattan – tennis courts are not seen as the best use of space. So where can you place a tennis court? How about on top of a roof! Here’s the story on how Manhattan’s Town Tennis Club was founded by 1931 Wimbledon champion Sidney Wood in his book “THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS… AND OTHER TENNIS TALES FROM A BYGONE ERA” ($14.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com, available for sale here.

In 1952, with the increase in building in New York City fast decimating its numerous empty-lot tennis courts, I got the urge to look into the possibility of utilizing open rooftop areas to save Manhattan’s tennis mavens from settling for racquetball. I knew of no previous exploration of this concept and concentrated my survey on primarily lower buildings.

I could go on ad nauseam, but the final result was the fortuitous discovery of the one time, two-story Doelger Brewery in the upscale Sutton Place area of Manhattan. The street-level space owned by Bill Doelger was occupied by the FBI for a garage on 56th Street. An even luckier find was that the three hi-rise apartment houses that bordered the site to the north and east could not be built on.

Bill immediately saw that a four-court, live action tennis landscape, center-pieced by a remodeled, glass-encased second floor of the brewery as a clubhouse and outer terrace, would be a unique, scenic enhancement for his present and projected buildings. My layout design for a not-for-profit club went straight to his architects, who advised that among the multiple code violations that the project would face, the Doelger’s East 56th Street apartment entrance – the only feasible entry we could have for the club – was a no-chance approval item.  It looked like curtains for us.

But having recruited New York’s Mayor, my friend Bob Wagner, as one of our club’s governors, I asked him if there was any kind of hardship plea worth pursuing. Bob guffawed  and said, “Sid, the city needs tennis courts.” I immediately phoned Bill Doelger who said he wanted to kiss me.

So this and multiple other ensuing code violations were summarily quashed and after phoning the Mayor’s secretary, Mary, a few times for his signature in response to the NYC Building Department code violations, she suggested that I simply initial his name!

I’m reasonably certain that ours was the first-ever rooftop tennis installation, and at present day is still in business. Some of my purist tennis pals may look upon me as a rules and regulation “Benedict Arnold” for the liberties I took to squeeze four courts into an area that was never intended to accommodate them. With 100 feet of width (half a block) to fit pairs of side-by-side, playable doubles courts and leave enough room for the fencing and for the fat lady to pass between the net posts, called for a bit of nimble doings. It came down to cutting nine inches off each outside alley line, (from 4 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft. 9 in.) It’s hard to believe, but year after year nobody, including a succession of top-level players on the Church Cup team, the senior version of the Davis Cup, ever had a clue.

Sorry about that, fellows!

With the club humming, my wife Pat suggested that we add a 40 by 80 foot ice rink atop our sitting room, aeons before the Donald Trump-built Central Park skating area came into existence. Even Olympic gold medal winner Dick Button would occasionally drop by for a sunny day spin.

Randy Walker on Wimbledon: The Final That Never Was

Randy Walker of New Chapter Media speaks to Joe McDonald on Wimbledon: The Final That Never Was.

About the Book:

The only time in the history of Wimbledon that the men’s singles final was not played is told in detail by the crowned champion in this illuminating tennis biography. Sidney Wood won the 1931 Wimbledon title by default over Frank Shields—his school buddy, doubles partner, roommate, and Davis Cup teammate—in one of the most curious episodes in sports history. Wood tells the tale of how Shields was ordered by the U.S. Tennis Association not to compete in the championship match so that he could rest his injured knee in preparation for an upcoming Davis Cup match. Three years later the story continues when he and Shields played a match at the Queen’s Club for the Wimbledon trophy. Also included are a compilation of short stories that deliver fascinating anecdotes of the 1930s and a signature document of the play and styles of 20th-century tennis legends.

Jan Kodes Hosts Book signings During Open

1971, 1973 US Open Finalist To Sign Copies of “JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN” at US Open Bookstore and Czech Restaurant “Café Prague” During 2010 US Open

Coffee Table Book Provides Narrative and Illustrated History of Czech Tennis

NEW YORK – Former Wimbledon champion and two-time U.S. Open finalist Jan Kodes of the Czech Republic will host two additional signings for his new book “JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN” during the 2010 US Open.

Kodes will host a signing on Sunday, September 5 at 5 pm at the US Open Bookstore on site at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Kodes will also sign copies of his book at Café Prague, an authentic Czech coffee house in mid-town Manhattan at 2 West 19th Street at Fifth Avenue on Friday, September 10 at 3 pm. Kodes hosted his first book signing at the US Open bookstore on Thursday.

The coffee table book, originally published in Czech, provides a narrative and illustrated history of Czech tennis through the eyes of Kodes and author Peter Kolar. The book, filled with hundreds of unique and personal photographs, documents the successful journey of Kodes from political turmoil of the Cold War to international tennis fame, detailing the early days of darkness and family persecution in communist Czechoslovakia and the complexities of becoming a professional tennis player under a totalitarian regime. Entertaining anecdotes featuring Czech tennis legends Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova are also featured as well as the stories behind Kodes’ victories at Wimbledon and the French Open and his two runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open.

“I am very pleased that this book is now available in English so fans outside of the Czech Republic can learn about my story and some history of tennis in my country,” said Kodes. “I am happy to share stories of my triumphs and failures as well as stories about Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl and other Czech tennis greats.”

“JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN” is available for $49.95 in bookstores and retail outlets across the United States and Canada. It is a deluxe glossy photo and text hard cover that fills 548 pages.

Kodes is considered the most under-rated tennis champion of the Open Era, reaching five major singles finals, winning the French Open in 1970 and 1971 and the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1973. He also reached the U.S. Open final in both 1971 and 1973, losing to Stan Smith and John Newcombe, respectively. Kodes played Davis Cup for Czechoslovakia for 15 years, leading his country to the final in 1975, where it lost to Sweden in Stockholm. His Davis Cup finale came in representing the team in 1980 when it won the championship over Italy in the final. Kodes has served as his country’s Davis Cup captain, president of the Czech Tennis Association, and tournament director of ATP Czech Open tournament.

“I believe that, in his time, Jan was one of the best players in the world,” said five-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg. “He earned his place in tennis history as a great champion.”

Peter Kolar is a Czech writer, who has written for Basket, Sports Plus, and Xantypa. He is the author of several Czech books profiling the NBA, the Winter Olympics, and three-time world decathlon champion, Tomas Dvorak.

“JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN” is published by New Chapter Press – also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match, by Cliff Richey with Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, Tennis Made Easy by Kelly Gunterman, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

Cliff Richey To Continue Mental Health Crusade During 2010 Open

NEW YORK – Cliff Richey, the tennis standout who ranked as the No. 1 tennis player in the United States 40 years ago in 1970, will continue his mental health advocacy crusade in New York at the 2010 US Open with several speeches and appearances to raise awareness and help people overcome depression and de-stigmatize the illness.

Richey, along with his sister Nancy Richey, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will headline a fund-raiser for the Riverdale Mental Health Association on Tuesday, September 7 at the Riverdale Yacht Club. Richey, a high-school dropout, will also speak at Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry on Friday, September 10. He will also conduct a signing for his new book ACING DEPRESSION: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match on Monday, September 6 at 5 pm at the US Open Bookstore on site at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center.

In ACING DEPRESSION, Richey calls depression among adult males “the silent tragedy in our culture today” and details his life-long battle with the disease that afflicts approximately 121 million people around the world. Co-written with his oldest daughter, Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, ACING DEPRESSION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.CliffRicheyBook.com), is a first-hand account of the life and tennis career of Richey, providing readers with his real-life drama – on and off the tennis court. Richey’s depression is a constant theme, from his genetics and family history, to the tensions of his professional tennis career and family life, to his eventual diagnosis and steps to recover from his condition.

Jimmy Connors, the five-time U.S. Open champion and a friend of Richey, penned the Foreword for ACING DEPRESSION. Writes Connors, “What made Cliff Richey what he was on the tennis court has certainly carried over into this book. His story has taken a subject, depression—which has affected him personally—and put it out there for everyone to see. Depression has been a subject that no one really talks about. Few people even admit to having such a condition. But Cliff is not afraid to be bold and reveal what he has gone through and what it takes to get a handle on this disease…Just as Cliff played tennis, he is studying how depression works; what its weaknesses are; and what strategies you can use against it. His hope is that people who read his story can learn—learn about the disease and learn that people who suffer can have a better quality of life. Things can get better. There is hope.”

Richey and his sister Nancy, a former French and Australian singles champion, will hit tennis balls, provide instruction and speak at the fund-raiser for the Riverdale Mental Health Association. The event will be held from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Riverdale Yacht Club, 800 West 254th Street and Palisade Avenue in the Bronx. Tickets are available for $150 per person, $250 per couple and $50 per child and can be purchased by emailing alange@rmha.org or calling 718-796-5300 x106. Preceding the fundraiser, Richey will visit the RMHA offices to tour the facilities and speak with clinicians. For more information on the RMHA, go to www.rmha.org.

Richey was known as the original “Bad Boy” of tennis, before there was John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. His 26-year career was highlighted by a 1970 season where he led the United States to the Davis Cup title, finished as the first-ever Grand Prix world points champion and won one of the most exciting matches in American tennis history that clinched the year-end No. 1 American ranking. However, his tantrums and boorish behavior simply served as a mask for his internal struggle with clinical depression. During his darkest days, Richey would place black trash bags over the windows of his house, stay in bed all day and cry. With the same determination that earned him the nick-name “The Bull,” Richey fought against his depression that was not diagnosed until just before his 50th birthday during a routine visit to the skin doctor. Since his happenstance diagnosis, Richey has steadily been taking anti-depressant drugs that has greatly improved his quality of life and moved him to become an advocate for mental health, speaking at numerous events and gatherings across the country.

“I have been given so many second chances in my life,” Richey says in the book. “The beautiful thing is that in recovery, almost everything in your life becomes a second chance. Hope is the foundation of our great country of America. Hope is such a driver of the normal human condition. The sum total of my awful disease was “loss of hope.” That’s the truly awesome thing about recovery: once you come back, your whole life after that feels like a second chance.”

The book has also received acclaim and endorsements in the mental health community.

Says Jackie Shannon, the Past President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Real men do get depression—even champion athletes. Cliff’s story is an inspiration to all those who are battling mental illnesses and a wake-up call to the public.” Says Lynn Lasky Clark, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Texas, “This straight forward, honest and intensely personal account of Cliff Richey’s experiences with tennis and depression is truly inspirational. Cliff Richey approaches his recovery from depression with great passion and determination. He provides hope and understanding through this powerful memoir.” Say Lynn Rutland, the Executive Director of MHMR (Mental Health, Mental Retardation), “The Richey’s inspired a whole generation of kids to believe in themselves and strive for excellence. Cliff’s story gives people hope when life has dealt them darkness. The battle for the mind is one that Cliff will never lose through lack of effort as he offers insight into his own struggles and victories. His story will continue to make a difference for those suffering with depression.”

ACING DEPRESSION is published by New Chapter Press – also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver, Tennis Made Easy by Kelly Gunterman, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

Bud Collins Releases The Second Edition of “The Bud Collins History of Tennis”

NEW YORK – Bud Collins, the man who many call the walking encyclopedia of tennis, has released a second edition of his famous tennis encyclopedia and record book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.

The 816-page second-edition volume – the most authoritative compilation of records, biographies and information on the sport of tennis – is dedicated to John Isner, Nicolas Mahut and chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, the three principles from the record-breaking longest match of all-time at 2010 Wimbledon, won by Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 in 11 hours, five minutes, featuring a record 113 aces from Isner.

“Has the Isner – Mahut match ended yet? You can find out in this book!” quipped Collins.

Collins, the Hall of Fame tennis journalist, broadcaster and personality, is the longtime columnist for the Boston Globe and a 1994 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He is covering the U.S. Championships for a 56th time in 2010. He will be signing books at the US Open Bookstore during the duration of the 2010 US Open.

THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press) is the ultimate compilation of historical tennis information, including year-by-year recaps of every tennis season, biographical sketches of every major tennis personality, as well as stats, records, and championship rolls for all the major events. The author’s personal relationships with major tennis stars offer insights into the world of professional tennis found nowhere else.

Among those endorsing THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS include the two women who hold the Wimbledon record for most total titles – Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King – who both won 20 Wimbledon titles in their careers. Said Navratilova, “If you know nothing about tennis, this book is for you. And if you know everything about tennis—Hah!—Bud knows more, so this book is for you too!” Said King, “We can’t move forward if we don’t understand and appreciate our past. This book not only provides us with accurate reporting of the rich tennis history, it keeps us current on the progress of the sport today.” Also endorsing the book is author, commentator and Sports Illustrated contributor Frank Deford, who stated,“No tennis encyclopedia could be written by anyone but Bud Collins because Bud Collins is the walking tennis encyclopedia—the game’s barefoot professor. The only thing missing about the sport from his new edition is a section about Bud himself. But everything else is there—and it’s easy to open and use for the whole family.” Said Dick Enberg of CBS Sports and ESPN, “Did you ever see an encyclopedia walking? That’s Bud Collins (who sometimes runs, too). Plunge into his book and swim joyfully through the history of tennis. It’s all here.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of “The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection” (www.RogerFedererBook.com) by Rene Stauffer, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey with Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes and Petr Kolar, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda, “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook” by Eric Rabinowitz and “Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse” by Jack McDermott, among others. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

An Excerpt from “Quest for Perfection”

Roger Federer is looking for his sixth straight US Open men’s singles title at the 2009. The first of his five straight titles in New York came in 2004 when he defeated Lleyton Hewitt, his third-round victim in 2009, in the final. Rene Stauffer, the author of the Federer biography THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) details the 2004 US Open final between Federer and Hewitt in his celebrated tome. The brief book excerpt is seen below…

Awaiting him in the final was another of his past nemeses, Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 US Open champion. The Australian skipped the Olympic Games, but won the two ATP tournaments played concurrently to the Olympics in Washington, D.C. and in Long Island. Entering his match with Federer, he won his last 16 matches and did not surrender a set in his six-match run to the final.

It only took 17 minutes for Federer to hand Hewitt his first lost set of the tournament, losing only five points in a near perfect execution of tennis. When Hewitt won his first game of the match after Federer led 6-0, 2-0, the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium gave him a standing ovation. Federer contin­ued to be the much stronger player, until a lapse of concentration and a run of errors and missed serves allowed Hewitt to win four straight games after trailing 2-5 in the second set.

“If he had managed to win the second set, it would have turned out to be an entirely different match,” Federer said. “I forced myself to keep positive. I said to myself that I only got this break because I was playing against the wind and I was serving with old balls. When I changed sides, everything actually did go easier.”

Federer held serve at 5-6 to force the tiebreak and won that 7-3. The two-set lead broke Hewitt’s resistance and Federer plowed through the final set 6-0 to win his first US Open championship.

“First I was surprised that Lleyton was no longer getting to the ball,” Federer said of his moment of victory. “Then I was suddenly lying on my back, look­ing into the sky at the lights of the stadium. I thought, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ Once again I was close to tears.”

An Excerpt from “The Education of a Tennis Player”

The court was greasy, but somehow slow, which favored me because Tony’s slice didn’t take. Movement was tough, and this was a break for me because Tony decided not to put on spikes. He figured his strained thigh muscles would be jarred by the quick stops you make in spikes, possibly bringing on a cramp.

That first set was one of the strangest I’ve ever played. I should have won it and deserved to lose it. I got what I deserved and Tony took it 9-7, just took it right away from me after I’d been serving for the set at 5-3. He did it with beautiful backhands. I was sloshing and slipping around, and a couple of times I had asked referee Mike Gibson for permission to put on my spiked shoes. I’d wanted to begin the match in them, but he’d refused. After that game, Mike said all right. It meant all the difference to me.

Tony immediately won his serve in four points, but I felt surer on my feet and I knew I’d get going. Especially when I stopped him two points short of the set to keep even at 6-6. But I wasn’t so sure when I lost that first set anyway. I’d had a lot of luck during the year, and I wondered if it had run out at last. Although I’d worn spikes here and there throughout my career, the occasions were so rare during my professional days that they took some getting used to. You consciously changed your movements at first. Picked up your feet. No sliding. It was a new sensation until you were re-accustomed to them.

The slight uncertainty of moving in spikes was gone for good in the first game of the second set when I came through with a big serve at the crucial point of the match. With the first set his, and the pressure on me, Tony got me down 30-40 on my serve. One more point and he’d be up a set and a break, a pretty good edge in that mush.

We both knew this was a huge point. He took his time getting ready to return, and I did the same lining up—not overly so, maybe not even noticeable to the crowd, but we had to be right for this one. I was righter. I threw myself into the serve, and sliced it wide to his forehand. It didn’t come back. He barely touched it, and I could tell it pained him to miss the opportunity. You don’t get too many break-point chances on grass—and he didn’t have another.

It wouldn’t be apparent for a while, but the match turned upside down right there. I won the game and began hitting harder and harder as I got surer of my footing. Then I won the next and the next—five straight. From that break-point chance in the first game, Tony managed to win only five of the last 23 games. He came all apart as I wrapped him up, 7-9, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Not even a rain delay of a half-hour at the beginning of the third set could rust my concentration or help him pull his together.

Unlike 1962, I had control of myself all through the final match of the Grand Slam. I was never dazed as I had been against Emmo seven years before during a brief case of nerves down the stretch.

Serving match game, I opened with an ace. I knew what I was about, and wasn’t going to let Tony breathe. It was 40-0 when I did try to end with a grand-slamming flourish on a forehand volley. I blew it. A minor disappointment not to be able to score with a put-away as I had on the championship point at Wimbledon.

It fell to Tony to lose it with a forehand that he hit long. Both of us were glad it was over. Afraid to use spikes, he’d been victimized in sneakers, unable to counteract my better shots, including a number of very good lobs. It was one of my best days with the lob, always a useful shot, but even more damaging that day when running was tough.

Not enough ordinary players realize the value of the lob, and I guess I didn’t until I became a seasoned pro. It’s much more than a desperation measure. As an amateur, even if the odds were against my making a shot, I’d usually let fly anyway. When I became a pro, I couldn’t risk throwing away points like that because the opposition was equal or better.

This meant I had to be realistic. If my chances of making a shot from a difficult position were doubtful, I found you seldom get hurt with a lob.

But there were no more lobs to be hit. Not one more stroke on a chase that began God knows how many strokes ago in Brisbane when I hit the first serve to a fellow I wouldn’t know if he walked into the room, Massimo di Domenico. The others I knew pretty well . . . Andres . . . Arthur . . Emmo . . . Tony . . . Newc . . . Dennis . . . Kenny . . . Okker . . . Smith.

There were 1,005 games in 26 Grand Slam matches, and now it was all over.

Laver captured 11 major singles titles during his career, including Wimbledon in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969. After joining Don Budge as the only man to win a Grand Slam by sweeping all four majors in 1962, Laver turned professional where he, along with fellow pros Hoad, Rosewall and Gonzalez, were banned from playing the “amateur-only” major tournaments. When the “Open Era” of tennis began in 1968, Laver netted another five major singles titles, including his Grand Slam sweep of all four in 1969. Laver won nearly 200 singles titles during his career and was inducted into the International Tennis of Fame in 1981.

I am delighted that THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER is back in circulation and available for a new generation of tennis fans,” said Laver. “Winning the Grand Slam for a second time in 1969 seems just like yesterday and this book brings back a lot of memories of the great matches and exciting times. I hope people enjoy reading my story.

Collins, himself a 1994 inductee in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, first met Laver in 1956 at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston during the U.S. National Doubles Championships. Thirteen years later, the two collaborated on the book that was only to be published if Laver won the Grand Slam. Collins is best known for his colorful television commentary – and his colorful wardrobe – as well as his columns in the Boston Globe. Collins currently works as a commentator with ESPN2 and Tennis Channel.

Rod Laver is one of the greatest treasures we have in tennis and THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER is one of our sports most important literary works,” said Collins. “Rod was always so humble and gracious, but he could play tennis like a hurricane. He was as a great a champion as we have ever had in tennis and one of the all-time nicest guys.

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS by Bud Collins, THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer and BOYCOTT: STOLEN DREAMS OF THE 1980 MOSCOW OLYMPIC GAMES by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli among others. More information on New Chapter Press can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

An Excerpt From “American Doubles”

“The Bryans Rule”

An excerpt, printed with permission, from AMERICAN DOUBLES …the Trials …the Triumphs …the Domination by Marcia Frost. The book, published by Mansion Grove House, is available on Amazon.com, BN.com, and AmericanDoublesBook.net.

Kathy Bryan was playing a doubles match on her due date so her boys were literally born to play tennis when they made their appearance on April 29, 1978. Bob and Mike Bryan grew up in Camarillo, California, a small farm town that is known more for raising lemons and strawberries than tennis players. But Kathy and Wayne Bryan changed all that and instead reared the most famous twins in the tennis world.

In 2007, the Bryan Brothers earned the No. 1 place in the world for three consecutive years and for the fourth time in the past five years. The ITF, which bases the honor on a combination of performance and international competition (i.e. Davis Cup), named them their ITF World Doubles Champions for the fifth straight year. They earned 11 ATP titles in 2007 and, with a total of 44, they are getting close to breaking the all-time record by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (“the Woodies”) of 61 titles.

From January of 2005 to July of 2007, the “Boys,” as they are often known, made seven consecutive Grand Slam finals, the first team in the Open era to accomplish that. They completed the Career Grand Slam, becoming only the third doubles team — and first American team — to have won all four major titles in the Open Era (Jacco Eltingh & Paul Haarhuis and the Woodies are the other two).

While Wayne Bryan may have been coach to his boys when they were growing up, he is clear on who had the dreams, “It was not about my goals, it was really just about their goals. Kathy (their mother) and I did everything we could to help them along the path to their goals.” The boys did not watch television and they were not allowed to play against each other in a junior tournament. It was typical to see a “default” as the score when it was a Bryan-Bryan final. The junior tennis world just accepted that was the way it was.

Bob and Mike knew early on what it was they wanted to do. They wrote down their goals and they kept going back to them:

To be No. 1 in the U.S. in Doubles every year in the Juniors
They were No. 1 in the 12s, 14s and 18s (twice);

To get a full ride to Stanford and win the NCAA Team, Doubles and Singles Championship;
They played for Stanford from 1996-98. They led Stanford to the team championship both seasons and won the NCAA Doubles Championship in 1998. Bob also won the singles that year.

To be No. 1 in the World in Doubles;
They accomplished this for the first time in 2003.

To win all the Grand Slam Doubles titles;
They have won two Australian Opens, two French Opens, two Wimbledons and one U.S. Open Championship.

To be the Davis Cup Doubles Team for the U.S. and win the Davis Cup for the U.S.
They clinched the United State’s first Davis Cup final in 12 years on December 1, 2007.

Writing down the goals was an important part of the process, says Wayne, “We (their mother and I) feel you must see it before you can dream it and you must be passionate about it before you can achieve it. We felt it was very important that they knew the ‘real deal’ and all the thousands of steps it took to get up to the top of the mountain, and at the same time we always wanted them to have a smile on their face and learn the great lessons of life along the way and help other people on their journey…And we wanted to leave the tennis campsite cleaner than we found it.”

It is the bond between the two brothers that led them to both choose a doubles career even after Bob, who won the 1998 NCAA Singles Championship, had a good shot at a career in that event.

James Blake spoke a bit about the talent of the Twins at that [the 2007 Davis Cup final in Portland, Ore.], “We have so much fun watching them because we’re constantly in awe of how good their hands are, how well they move together, how great Mike’s returning, how close Bob gets to the net, how well they’re doing everything.”

It was a long road to Portland from when Mike and Bob went to the Davis Cup match in La Costa, California, when they were just 11 years old. As juniors they won 10 national junior doubles titles, including an unmatched five USTA National Clay Court Championships. They were also the first team to win backto- back USTA National Boys’ 18 titles at Kalamazoo in 50 years. Along the way, Bob managed to pick up six national junior singles trophies, while Mike got five. They were the last brothers (in 1996) to be ranked in the Top 10 of the Boys’ 18 division of the USTA National Junior Rankings at the same time.

To those watching The Twins off the court, there are still other subtle ways to tell the guys apart. Bob has always worn a shell beaded necklace. He is also taller — 6’4” to Mike’s 6’31/2”.

The final goal on Bob and Mike’s list was achieved in when they clinched that Davis Cup for the United States, but that doesn’t mean the twins are done playing. “Doubles is a game that you develop into your early, mid 30s,” says Bob. “See guys in their 30s getting better. I think we’ll still improve.”

April 29, 2008 marked the 30th birthday of Bob and Mike Bryan. As they head into their 30s they decided to just add to the list the goal of chasing some records. The “Woodies” currently hold the record for the most year end number one finishes (5), however, it looks like that record will not last for much longer if Bob and Mike have their way.