Bryan Bros. knock off Mardy Fish, Thomas Blake in exhibition in Vero Beach

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Bob and Mike Bryan may be stingy on the tennis court, but they are quite generous off it.

During their 23-year pro career, the identical twins and the greatest doubles team of all time claimed a record 119 titles as a team, including a record 16 major titles, five at the U.S. Open.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Windsor Club in Vero Beach, the now retired brothers were again not in the giving mood on court while playing an exhibition match against Vero Beach native Mardy Fish and former Harvard standout Thomas Blake.

However, as the clay court dust settled after their 6-2, 6-4 victory, the Bryans showed their generous side in donating $10,000 to the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the charitable organization founded by Fish, their long-time U.S. Davis Cup teammate and one-time captain.

“He is doing so much for the country,” said Mike Bryan of Fish, who in addition to serving as the U.S. Davis Cup captain has also been a leading advocate for mental health and for his Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, which benefits at-risk youth in Indian River County.

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Thomas Blake (from left), Mardy Fish, Bob and Mike and Bryan take a photo after an exhibition at the Windsor Club in Indian River County on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.
Thomas Blake (from left), Mardy Fish, Bob and Mike and Bryan take a photo after an exhibition at the Windsor Club in Indian River County on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.

The exhibition match was highly entertaining not only for the stellar play, but the good-natured trash talk that floated across the net almost as much as the balls did.

For added entertainment, Bob Bryan’s three young children Micaela, Bobby and Richie served as ball kids for the match.

“That was a spirited applause. This crowd is for us,” joked Mike Bryan after Fish lost his serve to go down 1-3 in the first set.

“No one wants you guys to win, not your wives or your kids,” retorted Fish back to the Bryans later. “You have them doing manual labor. They are saying ‘I thought we were going to Windsor for vacation?’”

Mardy Fish looks to return the ball during an exhibition with Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022., at the Windsor Club in Indian River County. Fish paired with retired pro Thomas Blake.
Mardy Fish looks to return the ball during an exhibition with Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022., at the Windsor Club in Indian River County. Fish paired with retired pro Thomas Blake.

While Blake did not have the career resume of the other three players on the court, or of his younger brother James, the long-time U.S. Davis Cup teammate of Fish and the Bryans, he played very well against the stiff competition and considering he works behind a desk in a finance job full time. However, despite his strong play, he was not exempt from the trash talking.

“You think James would have gotten there in time?” quipped Bob Bryan when Thomas Blake couldn’t quite get to a shot. A few points later as Blake hit a strong groundstroke winner, Fish retorted “James who?”

Fish actually had to play the match using one of the Solinco tennis rackets of the Bryans after forgetting his at his parents’ house.

“My racket made it all the way from Los Angeles and then it didn't make it from my parents’ house to here,” said Fish. “I brought my shoes and everything and I forgot my racket.”

The sold-out intimate exhibition was played on one of the feature courts at Windsor’s eight Har-Tru courts, surrounded by lush hedges, that was designed by former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Stan Smith and where Fish’s father Tom has been the Director of Tennis since 1991.

The Bryan Brothers do their famous “Chest Bump” after their win against Mardy Fish and Thomas Blake during an exhibition Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at the Windsor Club in Indian River County.
The Bryan Brothers do their famous “Chest Bump” after their win against Mardy Fish and Thomas Blake during an exhibition Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at the Windsor Club in Indian River County.

Half of the proceeds for the event were also donated to the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation. Also in attendance was Windsor co-founder, the Hon. Hilary M. Weston, her son Galen G. Weston and his wife Alexandra and their two sons Graydon and Griffin.

“It’s great to come here,” said Bob Bryan. “Windsor is such a beautiful place and is so special.”

“I've put a lot of hours on these courts over the years and all up and down A1A and Riverside Park,” said Fish, an honorary Windsor member. “It's nostalgic coming back. I played golf down in Jupiter yesterday and drove back and took the long way back down A1A, and called my wife had said, ‘I'm taking a long way home’ and going past Riomar, and our old house on Honeysuckle Lane and Beachland Elementary School and all that. It's really fun to get back, and certainly, to get back here to Windsor.”

The Bryans announced in late 2019 that their 2020 season would be their last on tour, but due to the global pandemic, they were not able to have their career send-off in front of appreciative fans at the 2020 U.S. Open, which was one of the first events to resume but was played in front of no fans. Instead, the final official match for the brothers came in the USA vs. Uzbekistan Davis Cup match in Hawaii in early March 2020 where they played for Fish, who was into his second year as the U.S. Davis Cup captain.

“We’ve been on the road for so many years, 23 years on tour and before that it was crazy in the juniors,” said Bob Bryan. “We are now spending more time at home with the family. Just them pick up, taking them to tennis, they're playing lots of music. We still have our band. We're jamming a little bit. Playing chess. But we're traveling a little. We're doing some appearances like this, and do a couple of weeks (commentating) with the Tennis Channel. But it was a great time on tour, but this is a special time in life as well.”

Said Mike Bryan of his retirement, “I had a baby so, I'm changing diapers. We've been enjoying retirement for a few years and just see where the next part of our lives takes us but we're still going to be in tennis. We love doing these type of things and giving back to the kids. We have a foundation too, so, we are working hard at that too.”

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Bryan Bros. down Fish, Blake in charity event at Windsor Club in Vero Beach

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