Working His Way to the Top
April 13, 2007
By Tim Miguel
The old Cal slogan 'The Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die' attributed to former Cal football quarterback Joe Kapp can be exemplified through the efforts of Tyler Browne, a senior on the California men's tennis team. Browne, who will be playing his final matches at the Hellman Tennis Center this weekend against No. 8 USC and No. 10 UCLA, has worked hard to move up the ranks on the Cal roster during his four years on the team.
Battling adversity has been a common theme for Browne before his tenure as a Golden Bear began and throughout the four years he's played in Berkeley.
Browne, a native of Walnut Creek, was not a highly sought after recruit coming out of high school due to being injured for a good portion of his junior career. However, being a Bay Area local is what gave him the opportunity to come to Cal.
'I really lucked out with my situation to come here,' Browne said. 'I didn't have the opportunity that most guys had of playing full junior careers because I was injured for two years of it. I lucked out because our coach (Peter Wright) saw me in the papers. I had just beaten a guy who was going to Stanford and a guy who was going to Washington, so I really lucked out in that sense. Cal kind of found me, and I'm totally thankful and completely humble at the opportunity to play here. I've really loved every moment of it.'
Once he officially became a Bear, Browne's next hurdle to overcome was earning a spot in the lineup. He was going to have to work his way up after finding himself at the bottom of the depth chart.
'Coming in as a freshman, I remember I was at the bottom of the ladder,' Browne said. 'I remember sneaking a peak at my coach's lineup and I realized, `Hey, I'm at the bottom; I'm No. 11.' I knew that if I wanted to play here, I needed to work hard and really set my priorities straight. But here I am playing on court two in singles and court one in doubles for one of top universities in the country. That's something I've always dreamed about, and it just came with hard work.'
This year the antagonist clashing with Browne is the injury bug. During the fall campaign, Browne severely sprained his ankle, causing him to sit out for nearly the entire fall. More recently, Browne was dealing with the sore ankle, a sore wrist and bronchitis in a match last weekend at Washington. With the Bears trailing the Huskies 3-2, Browne won a hard-fought match against Daniel Chu, earning the 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 victory to tie the match at three. Ken Nakahara's victory clinched the 4-3 win for Cal.
'Having it come down to Ken and myself is something that we've always talked about,' Browne said. 'We've always dreamed about having our backs against the wall and coming out on top.'
Some fond memories Browne can take with him when he leaves Cal are numerous victories against Stanford. In his sophomore year, it was his three-set victory against the Cardinal's Erick McKean that led Cal to an upset win over Stanford in the final match of the season on April 16, 2005. Browne listed that match as one of his greatest moments as a Bear.
Another big win against the Cardinal came at the expense of a Stanford player who was ranked in the top 20 at the time. On April 22, 2006, Browne knocked off then-No. 15 Matt Bruch, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1.
'That was a great match for me personally, to know that I could beat one of the nation's best players,' Browne said. 'It was bittersweet because as a team we lost, but I still came away with a win over a guy who was ranked in the top 20 in the country. It was a lot of fun being out there with a lot of people watching the match. I don't know how many fans were there, but it was fenced all around with everyone watching. It gives me chills just thinking about it now.'
The theme of beating Stanford continued this season. Browne's three-set win over McKean helped the Bears sweep the Cardinal earlier this spring.
Playing along side his teammates is what Browne is going to miss the most. He said he will miss everything from the road trips, practices and just competing with his teammates. Browne plans on helping the team in any way he can next year, as he will continue his studies at Cal before graduating in May of 2008 with a degree in sociology.
'Collectively playing as one and going towards a team goal of winning a match is something I'm going to miss greatly,' Browne said. 'I'm going to miss seeing all of the guys on campus. This team atmosphere that we've created is something that I'll always cherish and always remember.'
Going head-to-head with two teams ranked in the top 10 this weekend and coming out with a win will not be an easy task. If Cal leaves the Hellman Tennis Center with a victory this weekend, Browne said it would lead to a happy ending to his collegiate career. Win or lose, Browne will always cherish his time spent as a Bear and his time with his coaches and teammates.
'I'd like to say thank you to all of them,' Browne said. 'It's because of them that I'm here. I can't thank them enough for everything they've done for me. Something that I'll want them to remember about me is I'll always be a Cal Bear. I'll always wear the Blue and Gold proud, and I'll represent this university as best I can. I'll always be there for them as much as they've been there for me.'