Brotherly love can go a long way, especially on the tennis court.
Just ask siblings Andres and Ricardo Prince.
On Saturday, the Wissahickon brothers’ team walked away with their second straight Suburban One American Conference doubles title, defeating Plymouth Whitemarsh’s second-seeded team of Jesse Richfield and Alex Rosenthal in the title match, 7-5, 6-3.
“(Ricardo and Andres) are such great doubles players,” coach Mark Daniels said. “With doubles, it’s – do you have a great serve, and do you have a good return, and they both do. They both have a very strong serve and have a big repertoire of serves.
“Every time they served, they held serve easily. There was no challenge. When PW was serving, every game was close. That’s one of their strong points- they’re both great servers, and they can both volley. Their serve is so big – it sets the person up at the net. It’s good teamwork with that combination.”
Playing doubles is nothing new to Andres and Ricardo.
“We’ve always practiced doubles together in the clinics that we have been in,” Ricardo said. “Ever since we started playing doubles, we were always partners. It’s been about eight years.”
Ask the two brothers the toughest part of playing doubles, and both echo similar sentiments.
“When I play with my brother, it’s definitely getting along and keeping cool on the court,” Ricardo said. “It’s probably easier to play with someone you’re not related to. “
“(The toughest part) is probably getting along with him,” Andres said. “He usually is the stronger player, but since we’re brothers, we tend to get on each other’s nerves sometimes.
“When everything is good, we have a pretty good doubles team.”
Andres and Ricardo acknowledged that being brothers has sometimes been a liability, pointing to their second round district loss to Abington last year as a case in point.
“Last year the main reason we lost was because – in that match – we got into a big fight with each other, and we weren’t talking,” Ricardo said. “We had lost the first set, and the second set was really close.
“We missed some important points, and we got mad at each other when one person made an error on an important point.”
“I honestly think we had a really good chance of winning that round,” Andres added. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to in the first set, and we got kind of mad at each other.
“We got frustrated, and when we get mad at each other, things just kind of fall apart. We didn’t really do the best we could.”
A sure sign that things aren’t going well on their side of the court – according to Daniels – is when they begin to exchange words in Spanish.
“That’s true,” Ricardo said. “Obviously, you don’t want your opponents to know you’re angry, and we probably think if we speak Spanish they won’t know that we’re fighting with each other, rather than if we were staying stuff in English.”
Conflict, according to Daniels, is not uncommon in double teams comprised of siblings.
“That happens more often than not with siblings playing doubles,” the Trojans’ coach said. “There’s a comfort there that you can say anything you want. When doubles players aren’t real, real close, they watch what they say, but siblings say anything to each other.”
Playing tennis in the offseason has been the norm for the two brothers, but working on doubles was not a priority. Until this past offseason.
“We played a lot of tournaments in the summer and the offseason just trying to mature and understand each other’s anger and just trying to deal with each other better,” Ricardo said.
“Our coaches and our parents always tell us, ‘Even if you are frustrated with each other, put that aside and don’t show it because it could really affect your game,’” Andres added.
According to Andres, who is a junior, things have changed since last year.
“Especially with him,” Andres said of Ricardo. “He doesn’t really get mad. He’s a lot more relaxed.
“Last year he wouldn’t get mad at me, but when he missed a shot, he’d get mad at himself. This year he’s more relaxed and calm, and he’s a lot better player.”
Ricardo, a sophomore who won the SOL singles title, is Wissahickon’s number one singles player while Andres is number two. There’s plenty of talent when the two step onto the court together, but doubles is a whole different world than singles.
“In doubles, you have to depend on someone else where in singles it’s all you,” Ricardo said. “If your partner isn’t doing so well, you have to step up for him, and if you’re not doing so well, you have to expect him to step it up for you.”
Both players, according to Andres, have different strengths as doubles partners.
“Ricardo is good with his serve and his return of serve,” he said. “I’m really good at the net and putting away any shot when I’m at the net.”
“Even when things aren’t going well, it’s fun to see how things work out, and we find a way to work our way out of things.”
“As far as doubles, they’re even par,” Daniels said. “And that’s why they complement each other really well. There’s not one great player and one weaker player, and that’s why they do well.
“The one thing we were working on with them was learning to get along better, and they have this year.”
That doesn’t mean that frustration still doesn’t set in sometimes. Andres acknowledged that he let his frustration show in the SOL title match against PW.
“I was actually hoping we would win it a lot easier than we did because I wanted to go into districts thinking that we could step it up even more,” Andres said. “I think we could have made it easier.
“What happened was that he (Ricardo) was trying to stay cool, but I kind of lost my cool because I was getting frustrated. Things weren’t going our way, and I kind of lost it, but he found a way to keep his cool. It was fun.”
Next on the schedule for the Prince brothers is the District One Tournament. The top four teams advance to the PIAA State Tournament.
“Our goal since last year ended was to get to states in 2010,” Ricardo said. “As long as we’re getting along, we have a high percentage chance.”
“On paper, they have a good shot,” Daniels added. “I think the main thing is going to be their attitude. They have talent. It’s just a matter of putting it together and staying focused.”
It promises to be an interesting district tournament for the Prince brothers.