By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
At just two years old, identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan picked up tennis racquets for the first time.
What has followed in the 30 years since is historic, as the twins have become the most successful men’s doubles team in history, winning their record-setting 62nd career title at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles on August 1 to pass hall-of-famers Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde on the all-time list.
It was special for the Bryans to set the record in Los Angeles on the campus of UCLA, where they first played as young children growing up in nearby Camarillo, Calif. Being so close to home also made it possible for many members of their family and friends to be in attendance for their record-setting victory over Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer.
"To win in L.A., that was our home court," Mike said. "We played when we were six years old on the UCLA stadium, and to do it with all of our family there, to have our grandparents all still alive to see us break the record at home was extra cool."
It was, in essence, the perfect place for the twins to set the record.
"It was awesome winning. I think if we picked one place to do it, it would have been there," Bob added. "We had about 30 friends and family there. It was an awesome experience. It added a little bit of pressure, but it made it that much sweeter."
The previous 30 years of their tennis careers have been filled with many accolades, as the brothers won their very first ATP Tour title in 2001 in Memphis, and they captured their record 62nd in L.A. in their 100th career final. And having passed two recent Hall of Fame inductees on the list, it would seem likely Bob and Mike are destined to be inducted themselves after their stellar career comes to an end.
The closeness between Bob and Mike has been well-documented and important to their success and communication on the tennis court – where Bob is a lefty and Mike is a righty. The twins were born just three minutes apart in 1978 to Wayne and Kathy Bryan, both tennis teachers who taught their sons to play.
Away from the tennis court, where they are still rarely separated, they have a band, The Bryan Brothers Band, which released its debut album in September 2009 and performed at 2009 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. The band also released a new single, "Open My Heart," in March 2010, the same night a segment on the brothers appeared on "60 Minutes."
Bob and Mike also have their own non-profit organization, The Bryan Brothers Foundation, which assists families and children in need.
When they first started out as junior players, their parents would not let them face each other in singles competition. As collegiate players, they starred at Stanford University for two years, helping lead the team to the NCAA title both seasons and also winning the 1998 NCAA men’s doubles title together, before turning professional.
And since winning their first title in 2001, the brothers have dominated the men’s doubles circuit, finishing as the year-end world No. 1s first in 2003 and also in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Also in 2009, they won the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the season-ending championship, for the third time and clinched the ATP World Tour Doubles Champion title for the fifth time.
Of their 62 titles, eight are Grand Slam victories, including the 2010 Australian Open, and they have become integral to the success of the U.S. Davis Cup Team in recent years, including the title-winning team in 2007, when they clinched the victory for the United States over Russia in the final. Overall, the brothers have been the most successful doubles team in U.S. Davis Cup history with 17 victories (to just two losses).
And to be sure, their record is not going to stop at 62. At 32 years old and currently co-ranked No. 3 in the world in doubles, there is no telling just where their record will end.
"People were talking about the record for the last couple of years, so it is nice to finally get it, and now we will just go after more," Mike said.