The Bryan brothers band is a hot one

KALYAN ASHOK

THEY belted out winners when they were on court and off it they played hard rock. Welcome to the world of Bryan twins, Bob and Mike were pure entertainers all right. They had the fans rooting for them at the KSLTA Stadium either with their power game or playing good sounds. The nearby band stand, came in handy.

Coach Craig Edwards is flanked by Bob (yellow jersey) and Mike Bryan.-K. GOPINATHAN

The twins from Camarillo, California, are a perfect pair, both towering over six feet. Bob is slightly taller than Mike and they have been playing together as toddlers. Tennis is in their genes as both their parents, father Wayne and mother Kathy, were as Bob puts it "decent players."

The family friend Craig Edwards, a former pro during Borg and McEnroe era, lent a helping hand to their career which saw them win NCAA titles, before they hit the pro doubles circuit in 1998 at the age of 20. Bob and Mike almost made it to the Davis Cup team last year, but skipper, Patrick McEnroe preferred the more experienced Don Johnson and Jared Palmer.

The Bryans, in the last 12 months, figured in six finals, winning four - at Memphis, Queen's Club (London), Newport and Los Angeles. The pair's best showing at a Grand Slam was a semi-final spot at Wimbledon, where it lost to Czech duo and World No. 3 pair, Jiri Novak and David Rikil. They make a lethal left ( Bob) and right (Mike ) combination, serving at 120 mph.

Craig Edwards was confident they will mature into a formidable force soon."Make no mistake about it, they will be around for long and will surely make it to the Davis Cup squad," said Edwards.

The world of doubles had not seen twins since Gulliksons - Tom and Tim, who played in early 80s. That genetic factor itself is big advantage for Bryans. "We understand each other better than most doubles players," says Bob. Their game revolves around power and they still have a long way to go in terms of playing with a sound strategy and that should come with experience. The champion pair, Rick Leach and Ellis Ferreira, after the defeat at the hands of the Bryans in the league phase said: "They are the future of American doubles and they are quick learners."

Edwards said that Bob and Mike, are working hard to iron out their flaws."The guys need to play with more variety and guile," he said. Bryans also make serious bid to break into singles ranks. Last year, Mike qualified for the U.S. Open.

After scoring their second win in the league phase of the Touchtel World Doubles, they charged out with glee, thinking that they had made it. But Edwards gently broke the news "Sorry guys, we are out, but you played great." Bryans were disappointed. "We thought we were there (in semi-finals), but all these funny set calculations put us out. Honestly, we are not least bothered about it. We just went to enjoy ourselves and win as many as ties as possible," said Mike Bryan.

About the future, he said: "We have our goals. Playing the Davis Cup is for one and yes, we would like to take a shot at the No. 1 World doubles ranking."

Bryans are as serious about music as they are about tennis. The Bryan Brothers Band is a hot one on and off the circuit. Lot of other tennis pros show interest. "Andy Roddick drops in to play with us," said Bob.

So, hang around, and rock with the Bryan Band!