Profiles in Tennis: Nic and Tristan Puehse
Nic and Tristan Puehse are 16 year-old twins who were once skateboarding prodigies, signing their first sponsor contract a day before turning 8 years old. In 2011, they surprised the skateboarding world by giving up the concrete to pursue a career in tennis.
The brothers' goal is to play doubles and be the next generation’s Bryan Brothers. The twins have recently climbed into the top 25 in Southwest Region USTA junior rankings and are looking to finish inside the top 100 nationally by the end of 2014.
What were some of the highest accolades you received in skateboarding?
Nic: I won the Gold Medal and Tristan won the Silver Medal in the California State Games.
What made you want to switch to tennis after being so successful in skateboarding?
Tristan: I think we were just looking for a new challenge after skateboarding for 7 years. It was all we knew and even though we enjoyed a lot of success, the passion kind of faded.
How old were you when you switched to tennis?
Nic: 13 1/2. We were actually in Arizona to film a skateboarding video. On one of our first days here, my dad asked us if we wanted to go hit some tennis balls so we rented a few racquets and had a blast. It was something totally different than skateboarding and fun!
Have you always been interested in tennis?
Tristan: We got interested just before we actually started. We were ball kids for Wayne Bryan and his Sacramento Capitals back in 2011. At the time, we didn't know who the Bryan Brothers were or many other tennis players for that matter.
What is interesting to you about tennis?
Nic: If you are not a tennis player, the sport seems pretty easy. ….hit a ball back and forth and just keep it over the net. There is SO much more to it than that, but I love that it is really incredibly challenging. You need excellent fitness, great footwork, technical skills, and most importantly, you have to have incredible focus.
What milestones have you reached in tennis so far?
Tristan: We have won several tournaments in singles and doubles. At this point in our young tennis career, for us, it is all about continued hard work and progression. In the past 3 years, we have put in nearly 4,5000 hours on the court and hit more than 1.5M balls. We're both very confident that our hard work and commitment will pay off and we know there are no shortcuts.
Did you both decide to pursue a tennis career together or did one have to persuade the other?
Nic: It pretty much happened at the same time when we were in AZ. I remember being in the pool afterwards with Tristan and asking what he thought about quitting skateboarding for tennis. He was all for it and we set ourselves a timeframe of 6 months to make a final decision to either stay with tennis or quite skateboarding for good.
What is it about the Bryan Brothers that influenced you?
Tristan: We have met Bob, Mike and their dad a few times and they are true ambassadors for the sport. They are the best doubles team ever and always humble. I think we identify with them a little more because we are also twins. We love their high energy game and they always seem to be enjoying themselves whenever they are on the court.
Do you think that being a twin (or brother) gives you an advantage in a team situation?
Nic: 100%. We know that we will always have more time to train together than most other teams. In the game of doubles, you see players frequently changing partners. Tristan and I know that we will have an advantage in the long run of being always able to train together. And even though we have only played 3 years, we already know what the other is going to do in many situations.
What did you learn from skateboarding that helps tennis? Do any of the skills translate?
Tristan: Probably the most important thing we learned switching from skateboarding to tennis is Never Give Up. In skateboarding, we could spend a week trying to land a trick. Every attempt usually resulted in slamming onto concrete. You had to be tough and always get back up. Tennis is similar in that day to day, there are so many ups and downs, but you just have to keep getting back out there and working on your game. As far as skills, skateboarding gave us a good headstart with footwork.
You signed with BOAST in March. What do you like about their apparel?
Nic: We love it. All their stuff is classic cool. They started back in the early 70s and its crazy how many tennis players we run into that know the brand and it's signature "Japanese Leaf." We are excited to be flying the BOAST flag!
What are your favorite things to do other than skateboarding and tennis?
Tristan: Well we don't skateboard anymore so that does not leave much left. :) When we aren't on the court, fitness training or in the gym, we love watching the Tennis Channel, swimming and going to movies.
Nic: Sushi; Tristan: Mexican
Top 10 tunes on your psych-up playlist?
Rude by Magic; Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz; Monster by Eminem & Rhianna; Back in Black – AC/DC; This is How We Do – Katy Perry; Black Widow – Iggy Azalea; No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys; Hey Porsche by Nelly; I Cry by Flo Rida; and, Born Free by Kid Rock
Any on-court superstitions?
Nic & Tristan: No superstitions.
Do you guys fight a lot or did you?
Nic: Yes we do a lot! When we do match play against each other, we probably challenge every other call. BUT, we are working hard on changing this. We have made much more progress as a doubles team. When we trained at Van der Meer Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, the pros names us Team Apocalypse because when we played doubles and even winning, we would get mad at each other and implode. Happy to say, we have come a long way since those days.
Anything kooky or unusual you can share about your personalities or relationship?
Tristan: Well Nic is definitely the more talkative and outgoing. We are best friends and seem to finish each others sentences a lot. As much as we are competitive against each other, there's a lot of mutual respect.
What's your balance between fitness and on-court hitting now?
Nic: Right now, we train 5-6 days a week. 4 hours a day on-court hitting, 1 hour in the gym and 45 minutes of fitness and footwork training.
Are you interested in going pro or college?
Tristan: Definitely pro!