Tim Martinez: Brothers take adversarial roles on tennis court

Two brothers play tennis for Columbia River, Hudson's Bay

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

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David Mertvyy

Andre Mertvyy

Every season, we send out requests to area high school coaches for story ideas on their team.

And every season, we get this tried-and-true response.

“We have these two players on our team, and get this, they’re brothers (or sisters).”

And our response is: “Neat. What else do you have?”

For some coaches, the first time they have a pair of siblings on their team, it may seem unique. But it generally means they haven’t been coaching that long.

Every year, there are dozens of sibling teammates on squads in Clark County.

So when we’re being pitched the sibling angle, we generally ask for a little bit more.

And that’s what the story of brothers Andre and David Mertvyy offered.

“I’ve been doing this 26 years, and this is a first for me,” Hudson’s Bay tennis coach Charles Hahn said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Last Wednesday, Andre and David were out on the courts at the Vancouver Tennis Center for a non-league tennis match between Columbia River and Hudson’s Bay.

Nothing out of the ordinary there, except when you add this nugget: Andre and David were on opposite sides of the net.

You see, Andre is a senior at Columbia River High School, while David is a junior at Hudson’s Bay High School.

Four years ago, Andre made the decision to attend River to be part of its International Baccalaureate program.

“The IB program was definitely something I wanted to pursue, the rigorous courses, the college credit was definitely something I wanted to try out,” he said.

As for David? “I’m still at Bay, just taking (Advanced Placement) classes,” he said, in a feigned sheepish voice.

While both are standouts in the classroom, they are not the stars on the court like their older brother Alex, a district champion last year for Bay.

Tennis is more of a pastime than a passion for the younger Mertvyy brothers.

For Andre, this was his first season playing high school tennis. “Tennis is something I do on the side, something fun to do,” he said.

David played on the tennis team at Bay with his brother Alex as a freshman. He stepped away last year before making a decision to return for his junior season. Hahn called him one of the program’s most improved players.

Last Wednesday’s match started out evenly. Andre was making conservative shots, simply aiming to keep the ball in play. David was a bit more aggressive, attempting to shoot winners past his brother.

But when David’s shots started to land wide or long, frustration began to set in — the kind of frustration that can only come from losing to your brother.

Eventually, the elder Mertvyy brother came away with the win.

“It was fun,” Andre said. “We’re always competitive with each other, so we’ve been looking forward to this. But the match kept getting postponed and rescheduled. In the end, it gave more time to prepare.”

David added: “I had to take it easy on him since it was his last high school match.”

After the final point was scored, Andre and David walked to net, reached across to shake hands, just as they would in any other match. Then they walked off the court smiling and joking.

“Today was about memories,” David said. “And memories are more important than victories.”

Spoken like a true sportsman … who had just lost to his brother.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep editor for The Columbian. He can be reached at (360) 735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.