The Braud twins, Alex (left) and Dillon are united once again in tennis, this time as USTA Southern section rivals.
© Jeff Sikes
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com, and Nick Woodbury, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Braud brothers, fraternal twins from Baton Rouge, La., grew up playing tennis together. Today, 23-year-old Dillon is a captain and team leader for the Louisiana State University club team. Alex is a top player for the College of Charleston team, one semester after leaving LSU – and his role as club president – to transfer for graduate school. Both players have a passion for club tennis, are fiercely competitive and very mentally focused.
Two months ago, they stood on opposite sides of the net in the USTA Southern sectional final, with Alex’s new team topping his old team. Both schools will have a shot at a national title at the 2013 Tennis On Campus National Championship in Surprise, Ariz.
"It’s definitely different," said Dillon, the elder of the two by 11 minutes. "I’ve lived with Alex 23 years of my life, and these are the first three months we’ve been apart. It’s been a little bit weird."
From a young age, both brothers got involved in playing tennis, taking part in USTA Jr. Team Tennis and numerous sanctioned USTA Junior Tournaments, and both played together in doubles for their high school team. When the time came to go to college, they both ended up choosing to go to LSU – their hometown school – and both were interested in sticking with tennis.
When the Braud brothers arrived at LSU, there were barely enough players for the club team – "There were about three or four guys who would show up to practice to hit and that would be it," said Alex – yet the Brauds pushed on. And along with their fellow freshmen who played Louisiana junior tournaments together, they formed a core of players who had USTA experience and leadership skills.
"We started going to more tournaments in Texas and Florida, places where we could face competition without having to travel very far," said Alex. Participating in nearby tournaments and producing results helped get more students at LSU interested in playing. With the improvements in travel and team stability, the team improved year by year both on and off the court.
The brothers admitted not always being in sync when both played at LSU, but their debates about the management of the club reflect the shared passion and belief in club tennis at LSU that has taken a team from an outfit with little funding or organization to a club that was named this year’s USTA Southern Tennis on Campus Club of the Year. In fact, in the last year alone the Brauds took part in LSU volunteer efforts with the Special Olympics, a handful of 10 and Under Tennis clinics and a sanctioned ITF Wheelchair Tennis tournament.
Now in South Carolina, Alex says the adjustment has been "pretty smooth." He is becoming part of a new culture, taking what he’s learned through trials at LSU and applying it in his new team as the College of Charleston took their first-ever USTA Southern Tennis On Campus Sectional.
Still, even in transition from Tiger to Cougar, Alex hasn’t changed his stripes as it relates to LSU.
"He still calls me to tell me how the LSU team could improve," says Dillon.
So what happens if College of Charleston should draw LSU during the tournament and Alex and Dillon’s teams face each other one more time?
"[LSU] will probably try to peg me as much as they can," says Alex, with a laugh.