As many of you know, TW likes to help out anyone in the tennis community at-large, in any way we can. Hey, we're all in this together, right? Also, it's good to know what other tennis folks are up to, especially when they are no longer high on the radar - that pertains to friend and neighbor who have moved away as well as to pros and former pros.
So today we have news from that exceptional doubles player, Alex O'Brien. You remember Alex - he was ranked as high as No. 30 in singles and No. 1 in doubles. He played Davis Cup for the US on five occasions, and he won the US Open doubles (with Sebastian Lareau), and a main tour singles at New Haven in 1996. His fondest memory is playing Davis Cup doubles with Pete Sampras in 1999, vs. Australian, in the sweltering 95-degree heat at Longwood Cricket Club, just outside Boston. The Aussies had a great team led by Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter; in fact, Alex and Pete earned the only point for the US, in the doubles, overcoming Mark Woodforde and Sandon Stolle in five tough sets.
But O'Brien's most cherished moment is his singles win at New Haven, of which he said, "I worked all my career to be a singles player, I really tried, but in the end I was a better doubles player, plain and simple. New Haven validated all that work for me, though. After I won that title, I stopped worrying about my self-worth."
That seems a very frank and honest admission, from someone who had a reputation as a good guy. These days, Alex mostly in Los Angeles, where he works as COO of a banking enterprise. He maintains his friendship with Pete Sampras (they often play three-on-three basketball games together, although the poker games in which Pete plays are a little too rich for Alex's blood).
Here's something y 'all may not know: Alex and his siblings, a brother, Blake, and a sister, Katherine (both of whom were state tennis champs) grew up partly on a little family spread, Littlefield Ranch. There's nothing like 58,000 acres to roam around on when you're a little kid, although the O'Briens pups were pretty much devoted to the much smaller piece of real estate represented by a tennis court.
"We were 'the tennis shoe cowboys', " Alex told me. "We showed up at the Ranch to work cattle as kids and we usually came in our tennis shoes. The cowboys would look at my brother and me and say, “howdy girls” . . . It only made us stronger."
Well, it turns out that Littlefield Ranch has developed a side business (easy to do, when you run an enormous cattle herd) selling premium steaks via mail order. And while Alex was telling me all this, he suggested that we run a little contest for TennisWorld readers. The contest is simple; if you get both answers right you will go into a pool from which the name of the winner will be drawn. We will acknowledge the winner here at TW after he or she is chosen.
Meanwhile, feel free to order steaks from Lit Ranch for your New Year's celebration. Maybe we can come up with some other contest or consideration for TW readers in the future.
Feel free to post a comment for Alex, below. He may drop in to say hello or answer any questions you may have tomorrow. And everyone have a wonderful weekend, and Christmas holiday.