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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Brotherly love for men’s tennis

    Jason, left, and Alex Labrosse bounce the ball off their rackets at practice Oct. 9 at the Robson Tennis Center. Alex, a redshirt freshman, joined his older brother on the Wildcat tennis team. The Quebec natives still speak French to each other.
    Jason, left, and Alex Labrosse bounce the ball off their rackets at practice Oct. 9 at the Robson Tennis Center. Alex, a redshirt freshman, joined his older brother on the Wildcat tennis team. The Quebec natives still speak French to each other.

    “”Everything’s different.””

    Everything in America that is, at least in the eyes of Alex Labrosse, a native of Quebec, Canada, and a redshirt freshman on the Arizona men’s tennis team who joined his brother Jason – who is also from Quebec – at the university last spring.

    But Jason sees things in America differently than his younger brother, saying that the language may be different, but the tennis competition remains the same.

    The way in which the two compete even surprised their head coach, Tad Berkowitz, when they came to Arizona. He described them as “”fiery guys”” as well as “”two of the most competitive guys on our team.””

    Although the two brothers are competitive by nature, they continue to support one another in life and in tennis.

    Learning the language

    Retaining the French Canadian (or Quebecois) language is a main priority for the brothers.

    “”I won’t ever lose my French, ’cause it’s one of the most important things for me,”” Alex said.

    The Labrosse brothers grew up speaking Quebecois and continue to speak it to each other. They started using English upon arriving in Arizona.

    “”Sometimes, you see those guys talking, and Jason will be talking to Alex in English, but then Alex will talk back to Jason in French,”” Berkowitz said.

    Alex’s accent remains strong, as he has lived in the U.S. since January, unlike his brother, who has been at Arizona for three years.

    Jason, who said he picked up English very quickly, explained that his brother might take longer to learn the language only because Alex still talks or writes in French daily.

    Unlike his brother, Alex still feels a strong connection to Quebec and the people there.

    “”My friends are always waiting for me when I go back,”” he said.

    The culture of sports

    Alan Labrosse, father of the two, is a sports agent and was a motorcycle-racing champion in Quebec. So the brothers have lived in the world of sports for quite some time.

    “”My parents are active people, and they told us (to) play a sport for fun,”” Jason said.

    They both began playing tennis but competed in baseball, soccer, swimming and hockey as well.

    In the end, it was tennis for both.

    “”Personally, I chose tennis because I was good at it, and I love winning more than anything,”” said Jason, who went 7-3 in the fall season last year and finished the year 17-15 overall, playing mostly in the No. 5 position. “”So, if I would have started winning at any other sport, I would have picked that sport.””

    But the sport they used to play in Quebec differs greatly from the one they play now. The rules may be the same, but the company with which they play is something they have never experienced.

    “”I’d never heard of team tennis before I came here,”” Jason said.

    Competing for the individual was all Jason and his brother knew in Quebec, but they both agreed that playing as a team is much more fulfilling than playing for oneself.

    Berkowitz agreed that the transition can be difficult, but that the two are establishing themselves as team players as they get older.

    “”Jason’s matured a lot in the last couple of years and kind of understands what it’s like to play on a team and support your teammates,”” he said.

    For Alex, the opportunity to play tennis and study simultaneously could not be passed by.

    “”If you stay in Quebec after high school, you kind of need to stop playing your sport… Either you go on the tour, or you quit,”” he said.

    Brotherly advantage

    For these two, there is no such thing as sibling rivalry.

    Sure, they both want to win, but they also want to see the other succeed, too.

    “”We have a lot of friends that don’t understand why we went to the same university,”” Jason said.

    But because they attend the same college, they have certain advantages over their opponents, such as being able to both learn from and keep each other accountable on a different level than most players.

    Jason was also able to help Alex close the divide made by a language barrier and gave him advice on his studies.

    With his older brother’s help, Alex said he was more aware to not “”make the same mistakes he did.””

    They also agreed that they are happy to see each other win, even if they are playing against one another.

    Still, it’s probably best that they play on the same team because there is always the tension of competition between them, but never sibling rivalry.

    “”He doesn’t like playing against me because he sees me as ‘my brother,'”” Jason said. “”When he’s on the other side of the court, I see him as ‘my opponent.'””

    Berkowitz said the two have their differences, but “”at the end of the day, they’re brothers, and they love each other and support each other.””

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