Southern California is loaded with plenty of talented doubles duos in prep boys tennis. The top tandem at Atascadero High probably knows each other better than any of the others.
On Friday, Devin Barber and Kyle Barber, who’re fraternal twins finishing their senior years for the Greyhounds, advanced to this week’s CIF-Southern Section championships for the second season in a row.
The Barbers, the PAC 7 champions, will find out today who they’ll open against, and are hoping for a bye into the round of 16, which will start at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Seal Beach Tennis Center. An expanded round of 32 precedes it at 1 p.m. Thursday at Whittier Narrows Tennis Club in South El Monte.
“It’s just going to be fun to go back and see how we can do,” Devin said. “I think we’ve both improved, and we’ll see how it goes. Our game has grown and we’ve been there before.”
A year ago, the Barbers were edged in the round of 16 by Corona del Mar’s Ryan Peyton (now a freshman at Villanova) and Shane Korber (a Georgetown commit), 6-4, 6-3.
Both Barbers are rated by TennisRecruiting.net, with Devin, who recently committed to play at Cal Poly as a recruited walk-on, ranked No. 85 in the state for singles, and Kyle at No. 107.
Their obvious, inherent rapport only elevates their play in doubles.
“We’ve been playing together our whole lives,” Kyle said, “so now it’s kind of at the point where we know what the other person’s going to do, what shots he can pull off and how he’ll react.”
Or as Devin explained, “We just know who we are. We know what makes each other tick.”
Additionally, their complementary traits can present matchup problems galore. Kyle is a right-hander, while Devin is a southpaw. The dynamic is similar to that of the famed Bryan Brothers, whom the Barbers took the court against when they were younger.
When Devin and Kyle were 10-year-olds, the Bryans, 24, ranked third in the world, played holding hands to make it a fair fight during a Cal Poly fundraiser in Avila Beach.
The Bryan family, from the Oxnard area, has stayed in contact with the Barber family over the years, offering mentoring advice and keeping tabs, said their mother, Amy Barber, who was an All-American at Cal Poly in the late 1980s.
The two have never played a complete, competitive set against each other, and any sibling rivalry remains friendly, Kyle said. Kyle, however, standing 6-foot-4, is known as a somewhat better dunker than his 6-3 brother, according to Devin.
Both also played basketball for the Greyhounds, and Kyle helped this year’s team to arguably the program’s finest season in 37 years.
They went 25-4, advancing to the Division 4AA semifinals.
Although Devin took his senior year off from the hardwood to focus solely on tennis, he was always in the stands, Kyle said.
Devin said he hopes to help the Mustangs in any way he can next year, even if it means paying his dues as a “practice guy” for a squad that will be looking for its second straight NCAA Tournament berth.
“The team is so solid,” Devin said of Cal Poly, “and they have some guys who’ll be back.”
Kyle will also attend Cal Poly, and plans to stay near his brother — “for the rest of my life, hopefully,” he said. The future aside, though, the brothers just want to enjoy one final chance to compete together.
“The most important thing, I guess, is how happy I am to be able to play with my best friend,” Kyle said. “To share this last tournament with my brother means a lot to me.”