Even as connected as I am to the upper echelon of the men’s game, it’s not every day that I get invited to a semi-private doubles lesson with the Bryan Brothers. More like twice a week, but that’s beside the point. The point, rather, is that I got invited to a semi-private lesson with the Bryan Brothers, and you did not. This of course means that I now have a certain amount of “cool points” which are redeemable so long as the Bryan Brothers remain cool1. And for those of you who know me, I think you’ll agree that I undoubtedly need the points. And the lesson.
Anyway. As it happened, the President/Owner/CEO & Head-Honcho of Tencap Tennis – our very own Steve Timperely – was invited (by Will, from FuzzyYellowBalls) to play with Bob & Mike, and he (Steve) invited me along for the ride. Not to play, mind you – he’s CEO for a reason (hint: smart) – he invited his buddy Grant (Gordon: related to Commissioner Gordon by marriage, as I understand it) to play. I was invited to take pictures for the blog. Which I did.
[beginning of unsolicited plug for Steve & for Tencap] If you’re a member of Tencap, you can feel pretty darned confident that the guy at the helm understands tennis. Equally important, not only is Steve a top-shelf tennis player, he’s also a damn fine singer, and a dead-ringer for Rick Astley. I don’t think Grant can sing, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could. [end of unsolicited plug for Steve & for Tencap] #absolutelytrue
And of course, this whole thing was put together by Will (and Adam, the guy behind the camera) from FuzzyYellowBalls. FYB is a pretty cool site that most (many?) of you are probably already familiar with, but on the outside chance you’re not familiar with it, you should really familiarize yourself with it. It’s loaded with good, tennis-related content. Mainly videos. I should also point out that Will’s a pretty solid tennis player himself (Notice how he never misses when he’s hitting? Granted, Adam can do some remarkable things behind the lens, and there’s a lot of high-tech, special-effects that go into making Will not look any skinnier than he already is, but he – Adam – isn’t so good that he can make Will keep the ball in play – or make him any taller either – but I’m not one to cast stones.), though I don’t think he looks as much like Rick Astley as Steve does. I’m not sure how this relates to tennis, but I have a hunch that the more you look like Rick Astley, the more your opponents can’t keep looking at you and thinking, “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you go”, etc, etc, and thus forgetting to watch the ball, and forgetting to play tennis. I’ve been told I look like “Flea“, from RHCP, but it wasn’t a compliment, and it hasn’t helped me win any tennis matches that I’m aware of.
So there we were. The bunch of us. Playin tennis with the Bryan Brothers. It was a perfect Friday morning at Barney Allis Plaza, downtown Kansas City. Home court to the KC Explorers, and rumored burial ground to both Jimmy Hoffa and to my standing with Bob Bryan2.
It was a spectacular day and I learned a bunch. And the cool thing is – well, besides me – is that YOU TOO can learn everything that I learned, and more! See, Will & Adam (FuzzyYellowBalls) filmed the entire clinic, and are – as we speak – preparing to unleash upon the world the greatest doubles video-clinic ever produced, brought to you by the world greatest doubles team, ever. Anyway, if you want to improve your doubles game – not that your game needs any improvement of course, I’m just sayin – it stands to reason that you might be able to learn a thing or two from the Bryan Brothers. Possibly.
Whilst all the action was occurring, for a moment I pondered the viability of an idea I’d been thinking about: I’d teach Mike how to lay down a blistering blues solo (all pentatonic; see CAGED) and in return, he’d nominate me as his new doubles partner. I think I could have talked him into it, but for a minor blunder on my part, which I’ll get to in a moment2.
Anyway, between now and “then” (“then” being, the production release of the “Bryan Brothers, Video-Doubles-Clinic”, or whatever the FYB guys are going to call it), the most important thing you can do is (1) register at FuzzyYellowBalls, and (2) register at TencapTennis.
I know. You’re disappointed that I’m not going to relay all the cool stuff I learned at the clinic. There are two reasons for this: (1) All they kept talking about was crazy-stuff like “watching the ball”, and “good footwork”, and other such nonsense. I think we all know that the real secret to the Bryan Brothers amazing success is Tournagrip: the light blue grip that does not slip, and (2), I can’t remember everything they showed us.
Bottom line: If you want the private lesson with the Bryan Brothers, you gotta get it at FYB. Also, I know it’s not going to be free, though I don’t know what the cost is going to be. Regardless of what the cost is, think about this: (1) What are you currently willing to pay your local club pro for an hour-long lesson, and (2) How many professional tournaments has your club pro won? If it’s less than 73 – the current world-record, held by Bob & Mike Bryan – you might wanna consider learning from the best. Ever.
1: I officially call the coolness of the Bryan Brothers into question. Please consider as evidence exhibit-A, the below photo:
I don’t know where Bob & Mike got the step-stools from, but they both – simultaneously, using that special, “twin-magic, psycic-telepathic, crazy-synchronized movement” that they have – obtained said step-stools, and stood on them, totally unbeknownst to me, in a deliberate effort to make me appear short. Not cool, Bob & Mike, not cool at all.
2: What’s the one thing you want to do when you’re in the presence of a greatness? Exactly. You want to look cool, and knowledgeable, and hip. You want to look like you pay attention, and are “in the know”, as far as their field of expertise goes.
So how, you ask, did I (attempt to) accomplish this with Bob Bryan? I’m glad you asked. See, I watch enough tennis that I know – as you probably know – that Bob Bryan won the US Open with Martina Navratilova a few years ago. So at one point during the discussion, the topic of mixed doubles comes up. It’s a great discussion, and I learn all kinds of cool stuff about mixed doubles: I learn that the balls are lighter, I learn that this is why Mardy Fish lost to David Ferrer in the Davis Cup match in Austin, because the US selected to play with mixed doubles balls, and with the balls being lighter, Mardy felt like he was hitting a ping-pong ball, and struggled to keep his forehand under control. I learned that the mixed-doubles titles count for women’s grand-slam records, but they don’t count for men. I also learn that I really need to learn to shut up.
Here’s what happened: In an effort to look “cool, and knowledgeable, and hip”, I say to Bob, “So, the last one you won…was with Martina?” It was part question, part statement, but hey, how cool is it that *I* know he won a mixed doubles title with Martina Navratilova! Bob looks at me with a patiently disgusted, “no, but since you asked” look and says, “Um, no. I won the US open in 2006 with Martina. Then I won the French Open in 2008 with Victoria Azarenka. Then Wimbledon – also in 2008 – with Sam Stosur. And then the French Open again in 2009 with Liezel Huber, and then the US Open last year, also with Liezel Huber.”
[At that precise moment in the awkward silence that followed, a tumbleweed blew across the court at Barney Allis plaza]
Thankfully, at that point I had already made myself invisible, and nobody could see how embarrassed I was.
I glanced over at Steve who just looked down, and shook his head.