Tuesday, February 12, 2013

U.S. Indoor Championships, Bryan Brothers, and Other Doubles Specialists

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

Bryan brothers
  • Bryan brothers
The U.S. National Indoor Championships starts next week at the Racquet Club of Memphis with four events — men, women, and doubles. Each event features a different style and skill set. How different? Consider this bit of tennis trivia.

I was watching the University of Memphis men's team practice this week at The Racquet Club with Coach Paul Goebel. I told him his players looked about as good as the pros did 25 years ago, and he agreed. The big servers hit 130 miles an hour, and some of them hit their ground strokes just as hard. I asked if he had any doubles specialists, and he said, no, not yet, but he's looking for one. And he mentioned the name Stephen Huss, who I had never heard of. But Huss's record is nothing short of amazing.

An Aussie, he went to Auburn before turning pro. In 2005, he and his partner Wesley Moodie won the Gentlemen's Doubles at Wimbledon, beating Bob and Mike Bryan in the finals. Huss had to play his way into the main doubles draw and was the first qualifier ever to win the championship. He and Moodie were not one-match wonders; they beat five seeded teams. What's just as surprising is that he also played the qualifying tournament in singles at Tunica National, a Challenger-level event in Mississippi for players trying to break into the ATP Tour. And he did not even make the main draw.

That's how different doubles and singles are in this era.

The Bryans, who have won 13 Grand Slam doubles championships, will be playing in Memphis next week. Huss, who has won one Slam, is coaching tennis at Virginia Tech. What a story he has to tell, and what an inspiration he is to doubles specialists everywhere.

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