DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Ryan and Alex Hammer have always embraced their sibling rivalry.
“Whether it’s pickup basketball games in the park, video games or golfing, we’re always competitive with each other,” Alex said.
That is especially true on the tennis court.
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“We’re competitive with everything but especially tennis, the sport that we both love and continue to play the most,” Ryan said.
Freshman Alex Hammer has joined his brother Ryan, a senior, on the Franklin College’s men’s team this season. This is the first time they’ve been on same team since Ryan was a senior and Alex a freshman at Greenwood Community High School.
Ryan, 22, plays No. 1 singles and Alex, 19, is primarily in the No. 3 spot for the Grizzlies. They are playing together at No. 1 or No. 2 doubles. The main physical difference in their play is Ryan is a left-hander and Alex is right-handed.
Franklin College tennis coach Rusty Hughes said the other main contrast is Ryan has a more hyper personality, and Alex is more laid-back.
Otherwise, the brothers have several similarities, Hughes said.
“Both are relatively tall,” Hughes said. “Both have very good hand-eye coordination. Both are highly intelligent and can follow a game plan pretty well. Neither one likes to lose. They both have good serves.
“They’ve been playing together well. They complement each other well.”
Alex said it helps to give opponents different looks from their playing arms.
“It’s definitely an advantage to have different types of serves coming at them,” Alex said. “We’re always mixing it up between the two of us.”
Ryan said the fact that each has big serves is key, as well.
“We choose to play both our forehands up the middle, so that way if people want to hit to our weaker backhand side, they have to hit lower percentage shots going down the line,” Ryan said.
Ryan started playing in sixth grade and Alex began about the same time.
“I didn’t start until I knew there was middle school tennis and I knew my dad had played high school tennis,” Ryan said. “I played basketball and baseball then so I figured tennis could be my fall sport. Alex picked it up with me. So we kind of developed together. It’s not like I had a three-year head start. We went to similar camps.
“We’ve always been close in ability. I was always more focused on doubles in high school.”
Ryan played No. 1 doubles his senior year in high school. Alex played No. 1 singles all four years at Greenwood.
“Since I’ve gotten in college playing both singles and doubles, I’ve expanded the gap between us a little,” said Ryan, who has been named to the all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference team his first three seasons. “But now that he’s doing both, he’s closed the gap since he’s doing both now.
“We can go back and forth (on who wins), but I get him most of the time.”
Prior to this season, they had played doubles together in a few tournaments during the summer and had some success.
“We’ve been hitting with other since we were both in middle school,” Alex said. “So when we did start playing tournaments together, it was pretty quick we started to know each other’s strengths and we started clicking real well.”
Ryan’s personal goal for his final season is to make the all-conference team for the fourth consecutive season.
“For the team, I’d like to make it to the final of the conference tournament because we’ve lost in the semifinals the last three years,” Ryan said.
Name: Ryan Hammer
College: Franklin College. Will graduate this spring.
High School: Greenwood.
Majors: Accounting and business finance.
Hobbies: Drumming; played in Franklin College Band and was also on Greenwood Community High School’s marching band.
Favorite class: Introduction to Logic.
Biggest tennis moment: “Played No. 2 doubles my junior year with Brandon Fink in the county tournament, we were down a set and 4-1 against Center Grove and came back and won 11 straight games to win 6-1 in the third set. That was the first time I beat Center Grove and to come back in such a domination fashion.”
Favorite band: “Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Favorite TV show: “The Office.”
Name: Alex Hammer
College: Franklin College, freshman.
High school: Greenwood.
Sports: Played basketball for one season in high school. Played on baseball team his freshman, sophomore and senior years.
Favorite TV show: “The Office.” (Another thing he has in common with his older brother).
Favorite type of music: Hip-hop.
Favorite musician: Kid Cudi.
Favorite way to relax: “Hanging out (with friends,) and I also like to be golfing in my free time.”