Pro tennis lures Bryan twins from Stanford

Publication Date: Wednesday Jun 17, 1998

Pro tennis lures Bryan twins from Stanford

Mike and Bob eager to test themselves on next level after helping Cardinal men achieve unprecedented success

by Keith Peters

The decision to leave college early for the professional ranks is never an easy choice. What is gained must be weighed by what is lost. For sophomores Mike and Bob Bryan, their decision to leave Stanford in search of fulfillment in the professional tennis ranks was a difficult one. The identical twins said they will miss a lot.

"My girlfriend's a big one," said Bob, when asked what he'd miss most. "Plus, I just went through a huge pledge quarter at SAE. I want to get back at some of those pledges."

Mike, too, will miss his girlfriend--at home in Camarillo. And both will miss their friends, their coaches and the college environment they've enjoyed these past two years.

But, as they say, duty calls. In this case, they've achieved a great deal of success on the college level so now it's time to move on to the next challenge.

"We're eager to face the competition of the pro circuit," the Bryans said Monday during a teleconference to announce their decision of leaving Stanford. "We know it is going to be tough, and we will learn a lot in the first few months. But we feel we're ready for the challenge."

Both said money played no part in their decision.

"It's a question of reaching our potential and reaching our dreams," said Bob. "It's not about money."

"We intend to go back and get our degrees eventually," said Mike.

Both Bryans said they've been thinking about leaving since December.

"We've grown a lot at Stanford under (head coach) Dick Gould and (assistant) John Whitlinger," said Bob.

"They kind of helped us too much," added Mike. "If they hadn't helped us (improve) so much, we probably still would be going to Stanford."

This season, however, the Bryans did just about everything possible in college tennis while helping Stanford win a fourth straight NCAA team title--an unprecedented 16th overall. The two were a combined 19-0 in doubles and 42-1 in singles.

Bob became the first player since Stanford's Alex O'Brien in 1992 to sweep the NCAA team, singles and doubles titles in the same season. Mike joined with Bob to win doubles while helping the Cardinal fashion a 28-0 dual-match record, the best in school history. They became the first twin brothers to win the NCAA doubles crown since 1946.

"We had a lot on our mind all season," said Bob. "What we did in Athens (at the NCAA tournament) made our decision easier. It's a sad day we're leaving there, but it's time."

Said Gould: "I feel so fortunate to have had Bob and Mike here for the past two years. I am very proud of their accomplishments academically, athletically and socially while at Stanford, and I hope we've done our part to help them grow. I know they will continue to carry the Stanford banner high as they join the other great Cardinal players out on the pro tour. I wish Bob and Mike the best in the next phase of their lives. We will support them in whatever way we can."

The Bryans will begin their pro careers at the USTA Futures on June 22-28 in Waco, Tex. Bob will have a wild-card entry into the U.S. Open singles draw in August while together they will receive a wild card into the doubles. 

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