THE greatest men’s doubles team in tennis history learned how to win on the world stage in Winnipeg.
Wayne Bryan, father and coach of Mike and Bob Bryan, said their gold-medal performance at the Pan Am Games in 1999 was a key “ingredient” in their careers, which has seen them win 15 Grand Slam events, 99 career titles and an Olympic gold medal.
“The Pan Am Games gave them a feel of what was to come in the Olympics and the Davis Cup. That was the first time they got to wear the colours of the USA as pros. They’ve always loved playing for their country,” the family patriarch said.
Bryan was flown in by the organizers of the Manshield Tennis Futures and CIBC Wood Gundy Challenger tournaments to put on some doubles clinics for local players and speak at a couple of sponsors’ events.
He was impressed with the organizers of the fifth-biggest professional tournament in Canada.
“There are a lot of extras out there, the flags, the flowers, the food and quite a few social activities. Most of the tournaments don’t do all of that,” he said.
Even when he’s not with his sons, he’s in contact with them every day either on the phone or via email or text. He’ll pass on the odd tip when he watches them on television but he makes sure not to go overboard on the advice.
“It’s little tiny reminders, not too much. The best coaches don’t blabber too much but when they talk it’s gold bullion. The players tune you out if you talk too much,” he said.
Bryan said the best thing that aspiring tennis players can do when a tournament of this calibre is in town is to go to the site and watch both matches and practices.
“Champions take it in through their eyes not the ears,” he said.
The men’s and women’s events continue at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club through Sunday. Admission is free.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2014 C4