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TENNIS: Professionals return to Midland to impart wisdom on younger players - Odessa American: Sports

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TENNIS: Professionals return to Midland to impart wisdom on younger players

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Posted: Saturday, September 24, 2016 11:48 pm

MIDLAND In between pressure-filled events such as Wimbledon and the Australian Open, tennis professionals find time to train and stay in shape.

Some of them also find time to tour the world and pass along some lessons they’ve learned to the next generation of tennis athletes.

Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, brothers Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan, and now-retired Mardy Fish all got to share their knowledge of the game with teams from 12 high schools early Saturday before taking part in the second West Texas Tennis Classic at the Bush Tennis Center.

Teams from as far as Lubbock and El Paso came to Midland to learn from the Olympic medalists and Grand Slam winners before sitting in the crowd and watching them play each other.

“These are more fun,” Querrey said during the event. “You don’t have the stress of winning or losing. You get to interact and relax out there and kind of mess around, which is something you don’t get to do that often. We’re all such good friends so it’s a fun little pack to travel around with.”

Querrey, Fish and Johnson first played each other in three first-to-10 singles matches before the trio took turns as teammates across the net from the Bryan Brothers in a normal best-of-three sets match.

Fish, who has career wins over the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, won both of his matches, while Querrey edged Johnson.

The Bryan Brothers defeated the trio in straight sets.

But the event was more than just a teaching session and two matches. The event raised money for the center’s outreach programs and featured a post-match concert from the Bryan Brother’s Band and Mardy Fish.

“The sport has given us so much, so it’s good to give back a little bit,” Bob Bryan said. “We’re trying to teach the high school kids stuff we’ve learned along our journey and hopefully inspire some of the younger kids to pick up a racket and put on a good show and have some fun while we are at it.”

Before the Bush Tennis Center opened last year, the chance to see professionals like the Bryan Brothers live was rare in the Permian Basin said Tim Stallard — the general manager for the tennis center.

The West Texas Tennis Classic was the third event in three days for the quintet with stops in Wichita Falls and Austin on Thursday and Friday, respectively. They’ll meet up with John Isner today for the Bryan Brothers annual foundation event in Camarillo, Calif.

The biggest impression left on the professionals from the event is the quality of the Bush Tennis Center. In addition to the main court and more than a dozen side courts, the center has plans to build an indoor facility.

“I think you’ll eventually see some great players coming out of Midland because of it,” Bob Bryan said.

The Bryan Brothers and Johnson hoped the event would inspire some of the high school athletes in attendance to try and chase the sport beyond their senior year.

The Bryan Brothers attended Stanford and Johnson went to the University of Southern California, with Bob Bryan saying they felt college tennis was the most fun you can have in the sport.

“We’re telling these kids to get after it at this age and have fun, but work hard and try to get that college scholarship or play on your college team,” Bob Bryan said. “All these kids have the opportunity to do that with a facility like this and all the great coaches.”

Odessa, TX

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