May 5, 2010
Barrus brothers were destined to play tennis
By TOM WILLIAMS
Just think, if Paul Barrus had been able to find that TV remote those many years ago
there could have been two other tennis players deciding the Cape-Atlantic League
championship last week.
"I came home and was just worn out," Barrus remembered. "I flopped onto the couch and
couldn't find the remote for the TV. I was just too tired to get up and change the
television so I just started watching this tennis match. I had never played the sport -
I'd played some basketball at Bishop McDevitt (PA) High School and some baseball
at Ocean City. But, as I watched, it looked like a great sport. So I thought I'd
try playing tennis."
Fast forward to last week in Vineland when Paul Barrus' two sons met for the CAL title.
Dan Barrus, the OCHS senior, defeated Chris Barrus, the freshman, 7-5,7-5, for the
championship. Their father was not there to watch. He had returned to Florida where
he is a tennis instructor at the YMCA of Naples, which is currently training some of
the country's top young players.
Dan Barrus remains undefeated and Chris has just the one loss to his brother. Later
this month, Dan should break the OCHS record for wins at No. 1 singles currently held
by Joe Carey.
"It has been very rewarding to watch Dan progress," said OCHS coach George McNally.
"He has had his ups and downs, just like any high school athlete, but he has developed
into a very talented and dedicated athlete. It will be fun to see just how far he can
go this year. And Chris is new to our program but he has a game that doesn't seem to
have a weakness. Chris has fit into our program very quickly. In fact, I don't think
there has been a day when he hasn't said or done something to make us laugh."
McNally will have to do without at least one of them next year. Dan is committed to
St. Joseph's University, the Atlantic 10 champions. And Chris might join his father
Paul Barrus is, understandably, very proud.
"They are great kids," he said. "Forget about tennis, they are just fun to be around.
Daniel has always been a clean ball striker. He played other sports but his timing and
hand-eye coordination in tennis was always very good. Chrissy was a natural from the
first time we put a racquet in his hand."
In addition to their father's sports history, Dan and Chris also got good genes from
their mother, Beth. "She went to school in Minnesota and she was a very good cross
country runner," said Paul.
Dan has now beaten Chris twice this year. In addition to the CAL final, he also beat
him in the singles challenge match that earned the senior the No. 1 singles spot in
the OCHS lineup for the fourth straight season.
"We hit all the time," Dan said, "but we just play one point at a time. We don't keep
score, except when we have to."
Their father thinks that is good.
"It is tough playing against your brother," he said, "especially in a sport like tennis.
If you play on opposite teams in basketball or baseball or football against your brother
it is much different. Tennis is like wrestling or boxing or maybe a race in track. It's
one on one. And a situation like that is tough for brothers, especially for the older
brother. He's older so he's expected to win. It's kind of no-win for him."
What it was last week was a memorable moment in Ocean City High School tennis history.
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