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updated: 10/1/2013 11:08 PM

McPhersons make tennis a family game at Elmhurst

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By Kyle Thele

Coaches always have close relationships with their players, but few are as unique as the one between Elmhurst College men's tennis coach Anthony McPherson and his senior captain.

Coming off the program's most successful year in decades, McPherson will have seniors in his top spots, including Vince McPherson, the coach's younger brother.

Separated by only six years, the McPherson brothers have a relationship unlike almost any other siblings. For the last three years McPherson has been coaching his younger brother. While it hasn't always been smooth, the mutual respect the two have has allowed them to reach new heights at Elmhurst.

"It's interesting," Vince said of their relationship. "It's good, it's good to have someone that came from the same background and had the same private coach and came from the same system. It's very beneficial to me. We have the same language and are on the same page."

It wasn't always easy, the younger McPherson said. He had to learn when to treat his brother like a coach and not just a sibling who can be argued with. As he's matured he has gained the ability to separate the two aspects of his life.

Much of this Vince attributes to his brother's ability to communicate.

The journey started at a young age for the Glenbard South graduates. Before they were tennis players they were working with their parents at their gymnastics gym. It was then that they learned how to take coaching from family members and use it to grow.

As they grew up in tennis they were both coached by Gregg Van Dine. Anthony said Van Dine became his mentor not only as a player but as a coach.

After a successful tennis career of his own at Elmhurst College, Anthony was offered the job as coach. While he had recruited classes before his brother's, handling Vince's was different. The coach told his brother to find the school that best fit him.

Vince, a talented opera singer, had planned to stay close to home to continue to work with his voice coach. When he was accepted to Elmhurst on scholarship, he told Anthony that he wasn't ready to give up tennis yet and earned a spot on his brother's team.

When it comes to tennis, there is no doubt what is most important to the McPhersons -- improving the team. Following their first conference championship since 1954, the Bluejays are coming back as hungry as ever and looking to take the next step, Anthony said.

The goal is not only to win the conference but to reach nationals, unlike last year, Vince said.

"Everyone is getting better every day," Anthony said. "We went from third place to second to first. We were that dark horse that everyone was afraid of. Now we have three seniors in the top three spots. We are going to keep working even harder than last year and go into the season like we never even won it."

With the kind of dedication the McPhersons have, it's impossible for tennis not to bleed into the rest of their life, Vince said. The trick comes in the ability to communicate with each other and talk things out, but from time to time Mom and Dad, Patrice and Don, step in.

When the brothers disagree they both said their parents usually side with the older McPherson, but always for good reason.

"They usually lean toward his side. I actually lean toward his side as well as the conversation goes on," Vince said. "Usually if something gets brought up I'll say my peace and he will say his counter and my parents will say, 'Vince there's nothing we can really do here because Anthony's got a point.'"

While they can't help but still get into brotherly arguments, when it comes to tennis there is usually just one answer.

"I hate to admit that he's more experienced and knows better," Vince said with a laugh, "but that's the truth."

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