They’re not exactly the Bryan Brothers, but John and Alexander Bernard would certainly love to be the next great American tennis pro brothers.
For now, they’ll have to settle on playing singles and doubles together at this week’s $10,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, if the rain ever stops at The Boulevard tennis club. For the second straight day Tuesday rain has wreaked havoc with the schedule.
Alexander, 17, is seeded No. 5 in singles while big brother John, 19, is seeded No. 10. Alexander plays Stefan Hartman of Melbourne, Florida at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, while John plays Amadeus Charlez-Alcock of Melbourne, Beach at 5 pm on Wednesday in their opening singles matches.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge stop sign for both brothers’ momentum. At 15, Alexander captured the prestigious USTA National Boys’ 16 Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in August 2019, which earned him a main draw berth into the U.S. Open junior championships. This year he couldn’t defend his title at Kalamazoo because COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 edition.
“I would’ve played in the 18s there, but It’s been really tough to stop the momentum of the year because I started off well,’’ said Alexander, who also the 2017 Easter Bowl national 14s and USTA National Clay Courts 16s doubles. “I was planning on playing a lot of tournaments, but now, I’m just trying to play anywhere we can.’’
Alexander actually trailed the fourth-seeded Aidan Mayo 1-4 in the third set and faced a match point before mounting a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 comeback at Kalamazoo. The southpaw’s all-court game, featuring his hooking left-handed serve, wicked topspin forehand to go with his court speed has him as the sixth-ranked American in the ITF Junior world rankings at No. 60.
John Bernard the 4th or ‘JB’, is 6-foot, about two inches taller than Alexander. He owns a powerful right-handed forehand and aggressively likes to take the net. He was all set to begin his freshman year at Florida State on a full tennis scholarship when the virus halted his progress. For now, FSU players are allowed to practice with their coaches present and hopefully, the college season will pick up in January.
JB won the Edge International (Universal Tennis Rating) doubles tournament with Alexander at Rick Macci’s Tennis Academy in Boca Raton in July and he also took the singles title at another UTR event in Plantation, Florida.
“I had a good start in some (ITF) Futures at the beginning of the year, which would’ve been good for the coaches to see those results. That made it tough to stop playing tournaments,’’ JB said. “But it was good to stay safe at home, too. This tournament will be a good test to see where we are.’’
The Bernard brothers have realistic goals of playing on the ATP Tour someday. They have been honing their games at the Gomez Tennis Academy in Naples since the family moved from Roanoke, Virginia to Bonita Springs approximately nine years ago.
“They’re helping us develop everything so we can learn discipline and hard work,’’ Alexander said.
It hasn’t hurt the siblings that both their parents, Leslie and John, played college tennis in Virginia, and mom coached the Hollins University women’s team before moving to Florida to pursue her sons’ tennis dreams. So, the gene pool is deep.
“The boys started young, hitting with my girls and against the wall at our meets,’’ said Leslie Bernard, who was named Coach of the Year in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in 2001.
While Leslie looks forward to watching her sons play doubles, it’s been painful to watch them go against each other in singles at tournaments over the years. Just ask Richard and Oracene Williams about nervously watching Venus and Serena play in all those Grand Slam finals.
“We’ve had situations where they played each other before and you just say, ’You win, we win, you win, we win.’ It’s not fun,’’ Leslie said.
This could be the first time the siblings actually play each other with a $3,000 payday on the line.
“My goal is to beat him 6-0 if possible,’’ cracked JB with Alexander sitting next to him. “It’s nice to always have someone to train with, to hit against and to play doubles with.’’
Just as in the case of Venus and Serena, Alexander, the younger sibling, has surpassed his older brother on the court, but mostly they enjoy always having a quality practice partner to hit with.
However, neither brother better challenge their parents, especially mom, on the pickleball courts.
“On Thursday, I’m headed to Las Vegas to play in the [$150,000 Professional Pickleball Association Championships],’’ she said.
Like her sons, Leslie Bernard is going to Vegas to win and bring home some cash.
After Monday’s play was completely wiped out due to rain, play was also delayed by three hours Tuesday due to rain. Sebastian Mendoza of Vero Beach, the top player on the Vero Beach High School team, easily won his first round match on Stadium Court 6-1, 6-1 over Seth Highnote of Douglasville, Georgia. Joseph Van Deinse, also of Vero Beach and the tennis coach at St. Edward’s school, defeated Klaus Fink of Germany 4-3, retire. Joseph’s brother James, the tennis coach at Vero Beach High School, defeated Mark Clark of Winter Park, Florida 6-1, 6-0. Both brothers face stiff competition in the second round – Joseph facing top seed Diego Hildago, a member of the Ecuador Davis Cup team and ranked No 378 in the world, while James faces No. 2 seed Alejandro Gomez, ranked No. 508 in the world.
Play continues Wednesday at The Boulevard at noon with second round singles matches.
FIRST ROUND SINGLES (Feed-In Matches)
Sebastian Mendoza (Vero Beach, Florida) def. Seth Highnote (Douglasville, Ga.) 6-1, 6-1
Joseph van Deinse (Vero Beach, Florida) def. Klaus Fink (Germany) 4-3, retire
Rodrigo Reyna (Mexico) def. Kurt Pessa (West Palm Beach, Florida) 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1
Harry Cacciatore (Gainesville, Florida) def. Alex Moutran (Montverde, Florida) 6-3, 6-0
Grey Cacciatore (Gainesville, Florida) def. Filippo Marangoni (Brazil) 6-0, 6-1
James van Deinse (Vero Beach, Florida) def. Mark Clark (Winter Park, Florida) 6-0, 6-1
Amadeus Charlez-Alcock (Melbourne Beach, Florida) def. Luis Diego Leon (Peru) 6-4, 6-4
Chuk Smarty (Broadview Heights, Ohio) def. Nicolas Streibick (Vero Beach, Florida) 6-1, 6-3
Stefan Hartman (Melbourne, Florida) def. Michael Bird (Cocoa Beach, Florida) 6-1, 6-1
Ricardo Reyna (Mexico) def. Kai Freeman (Chevy Chase, Md.), Walkover
J.P. Mullane (White Lake Charter Township, Michigan) def.. Alex Butler (Indialantic, Florida) 6-0, 6-1
Emilio van Cotthem (Vero Beach) def. Adam Bain (Newport Beach, Calif.) 6-0, 6-1
David Pfister (Bradenton, Florida) def. Nate Dickens (Melbourne, Florida) 6-0, 6-4
Sibi Soumahoro (Washington, D.C. ) def. Charlie Gundeck (Winter Park, Florida) 7-6(4), 6-0
Lazar Markovic (Locust Valley, N.Y.) def. Austin Causey (Melbourne, Florida) 6-0, 6-1
DOUBLES, FIRST ROUND
Diego Hidalgo (Ecuador) / Cesar Ramirez (Mexico) def. Sebastian Mendoza (Vero Beach, Florida) and Luis Diego Leon (Peru) 7-5, 6-0
Juan Benitez (Colombia) / A.J. Catanzariti (Pittsburgh, Pa.) vs. John Bernard (Bonita Springs, Florida) / Alex Bernard (Bonita Sprints, Florida) 6-1, 6-0.
Chuk Smarty (Broadview Heights, Ohio) / Kurt Pessa (West Palm Beach, Florida) def. Klaus Fink (Germany) / Michael Bird (Cocoa Beach, Florida) walkover
Harry Cacciatore / Grey Cacciatore vs. Ricardo Reyna / Rodrigo Reyna (Mexico) 6-2, 6-1
Alexandre Moutran (Montverde, Florida) / Fillipo Marangoni (Brazil) def. James van Deinse (Vero Beach, Florida) / Joseph van Deinse (Vero Beach, Florida) 6-1, 6-3
STADIUM – Emilio Van Cotthem (Vero Beach, Florida) vs. Jack Anthrop (Orlando, Florida)
GRANDSTAND – Charlie Sullivan (Boca Raton, Florida) vs. Chuk Smarty (Broadview Heights, Ohio)
COURT 3 – Tommi Carnevale-Miino (Italy) vs. Sibi Soumahoro (Washington, D.C.)
COURT 4 – David Pfister (Bradenton, Florida) vs. Ignacio Martinez (Weston, Florida)
NOT BEFORE 1:15 PM
Alejandro Gomez (Colombia) vs. James Van Deinse (Vero Beach, Florida)
Ben Kittay (Potomac, Md.) vs. J.P. Mullane (White Lake Charter Township, Michigan)
NOT BEFORE 1:45 PM
Connor Krug (Bradenton, Florida) vs. Sebastian Mendoza (Vero Beach, Florida)
NOT BEFORE 2:00 PM
Matthew Segura (Apopka, Florida) vs. Ricardo Reyna (Mexico)
Grey Cacciatore (Gainesville, Florida) vs. Robert Shymansky (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
NOT BEFORE 2:15 PM
Ricardo Rodriguez (Venezuela) vs. Rodrigo Reyna (Mexico)
NOT BEFORE 2:30 PM
Diego Hildago (Ecuador) vs. Joseph van Deinse (Vero Beach, Florida)
NOT BEFORE 3:30 PM
Alex Bernard (Bonita Springs, Florida) vs. Stefan Hartman (Melbourne, Florida)
Fletcher Scott (Lawrence, Kansas) vs. A.J. Catanzariti (Pittsburgh, Pa)
NOT BEFORE 4 PM
Harry Cacciatore (Gainesville, Florida) vs. Cesar Ramirez (Mexico)
NOT BEFORE 4:30 PM
Alejandro Gomez (Colombia) / Junior Ore (Miami) vs. Chuk Smarty (Broadview Heights, Ohio) / Kurt Pessa (West Palm Beach, Florida)
NOT BEFORE 4:45 PM
Ricardo Rodriquez (Venezuela) / Ignacio Martinez (Weston, Florida) vs. Filippo Marangoni (Brazil) / Alexander Moutran (Montverde, Florida)
NOT BEFORE 5 PM
John Bernard (Bonita Springs) vs. Amadeus Charlez-Alcock (Melbourne Beach, Florida)
Ben Kittay (Potomac, Md.) / Jack Anthrop (Orlando, Florida) vs. Yohann Prinsen (Belgium) / Robert Kowalczyk (Vero Beach, Florida)
NOT BEFORE 6 PM
Juan Benitez (Colombia) vs. Lazar Markovitz (Locust Valley, N.Y.)