BRYCE PEREIRA: TENNIS, SPORTSMANSHIP, AND FAMILYUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
AUGUST 24, 2023 | BRENDEN FISHER
BRYCE PEREIRA: TENNIS, SPORTSMANSHIP, AND FAMILYUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
AUGUST 24, 2023
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Family has an unparalleled ability to unite and foster connections. The path of a particular Southern California tennis star is a journey that could have easily faltered or never even begun, were it not for the profound influence of one key family member: his father.
Bryce Pereira’s tennis journey began with his earliest moments. “When I was born, my dad put a tennis ball in my hand so it would be the first thing that I held,” recalled Bryce.
Tennis became central to the Pereira family, and Bryce started playing when he was just six years old.
“I don’t recall my wins or losses, but leaving the court, I felt happy regardless because I loved the sport,” Bryce said.
As Bryce grew up, his mother Stephanie and older sister Alexis played a crucial role in shaping him on and off the court. While not an avid player, Stephanie’s love for the game is immeasurable. Alexis, a standout in high school and at TCU, instilled confidence and helped Bryce become the competitor he is today.
“My dad would constantly have us play against each other and it would get so heated because I couldn’t beat her for years and years,” Bryce shared. “I vividly remember the instance of beating her for the first time and that was when I felt I had made a big jump in my game.”
While Stephanie, Alexis, and Bryce all have strong ties to tennis, none of these ties would have been possible if not for the influence of Bryce’s father, Melwin. Born and raised in Singapore, Melwin made sure to share his passion for tennis with his loved ones. While he never received formal training and didn’t begin playing until he was 14, his skills progressed rapidly, earning him a spot on the Singapore National Team as a 16 year old. Melwin would later go on to represent Singapore in the Davis Cup in the late 1980s, play collegiate tennis at Cal State Los Angeles, and now coach youth tennis.
“My dad has been my idol and the most impactful figure in my life, especially when it came to tennis,” Bryce added. “He’s the one that really built my entire foundation in terms of knowledge of tennis and how to treat others on court.”
Blossoming into a true competitor, Bryce has never let his fiery spirit get in the way of his admiration for those who he shares the court with. Bryce’s values of sportsmanship and camaraderie were in large part due to the influence of his father.
“To me, sportsmanship is a reflection of your character and who you are as a human being,” said Bryce. “My dad always told me that however I acted on the court, would affect my behavior off the court and vice versa.”
Competing at the junior level, Bryce’s efforts would be rewarded in 2016 as he was awarded the Evelyn Houseman Lifetime Junior Sportsmanship Award.
“That day receiving the award was awesome,” Bryce discussed. “Honestly, I didn’t know that there was even such an award before it was presented to me. It was a crazy feeling being only 18 and being presented a lifetime sportsmanship award.”
One of Bryce’s fondest memories occurred just a few years prior. Competing alongside Ivan Thamma, Pereira captured the Boys’ 16 doubles title at the 2015 USTA National Championships. Thamma and Pereira are still close to this day, with their admiration for one another spreading far beyond the court.
“Bryce is one of the most humble and kind people I’ve ever met. His competitiveness on court and his respect to people off the court is what makes Bryce such a great person,” exclaimed Ivan.
Many of these accomplishments at a young age would not have been possible without the guidance of his family, but also if not for Bryce’s coach at the time, David Roditi.
“As a junior, Coach Roditi trained us in a way where our age didn’t matter,” shared Bryce. “He treated us all equally and explained that we had a job to do and a certain level of professionalism to go along with it. Once I bought into this, I felt that it changed the way I saw things and my outlook on life.”
The now head coach of the men’s team at TCU, Roditi has been helping shape the lives of young tennis players for years. Reflecting on Bryce, one of the traits that Roditi admired most was his sportsmanship.
“Bryce understood [sportsmanship] better than most players I have ever coached. From a very young age, he had the ability to compete and display that fighting spirit and also congratulate his opponents’ good shots. His parents and coaches must be very proud of his sportsmanship. He’s a great example for the next group of young tennis players.”
In the midst of his junior career, Bryce attended San Marino High School where he would cement himself as a prized prospect in the 2016-17 recruiting class. A 5-Star recruit, Bryce was awarded the Pasadena Star-News Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017, won two CIF doubles championships and became the first player to capture three consecutive CIF-Southern Section doubles titles from 2015 to 2017. Pereira was heavily recruited by many schools, but he would ultimately find himself donning the blue and gold at UCLA to begin his 2017-18 campaign.
Bryce’s first two seasons could not have gone much better. Pereira compiled an overall record of 46-24 between singles and doubles play, was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll multiple times and was a key player in the Bruin’s path to a Final Four and Sweet 16 finish. As everything seemed to be on the rise for Bryce heading into his junior season, his along with everyone else’s worlds would come to a screeching halt. In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, UCLA tennis was shut down on March 12, 2020.
As life as we knew it had taken a brief pause, so had Bryce’s love for tennis. While Bryce’s morale was at an all time low, an afternoon at the park with his father would change his outlook on tennis all-together.
“I remember going out to practice and playing so bad. Ultimately, I later went up to my dad to tell him that I didn’t want to play tennis anymore. The most interesting part of this conversation was that my dad had sort of agreed with me. I took a few days off until he asked me to go to the court to just give him a workout. I hesitantly agreed, but little did I know that this day would spark something inside of me. Once I started playing tennis for him at this practice, I realized why I played tennis in the first place, because of the joy it brought my dad and how much fun it was to work with him. Us working together is what we bonded over the most in my entire life.”
Returning back to campus in 2021 with a re-ignited passion for tennis, Pereira would finish his final two years of his collegiate career strong, totalling a combined overall record of 24-17 for the Bruins. Just as it seemed that Bryce’s time in collegiate tennis was coming to a close in the spring of 2022, one of Bryce’s dream schools came knocking. Following in his father’s footsteps and beginning his coaching career, Bryce accepted an assistant coaching position at USC that fall.
“Bryce has always been a classy tennis player and sport of the game of tennis,” said USC head coach Brett Masi. “It’s been no different since taking on an AC role with us here. We are very lucky to have Bryce working with our team and representing the USC brand.”
The transition for Bryce has been smoother than expected, in large part due to the knowledge he gained while watching his father coach.
“It was a pretty easy transition,” Bryce mentioned. Whether I knew it or not at the time, I retained everything that my dad told me growing up. His style of coaching somehow stayed in my brain.”
Reflecting on his life and tennis career, some of Bryce’s biggest heroes are also some of his biggest supporters. Bryce’s sister and father are extremely proud of the man, sportsman and tennis player he has blossomed into.
“Bryce embodies sportsmanship as a competitor but more importantly as a son, brother, and friend,” Alexis shared. “I think Bryce’s greatest example of sportsmanship is his ability to lead others to uphold his same standard of sportsmanship he holds himself to.”
“As a dad, I know that Bryce is very well-liked in the tennis community. People recognize the sincerity of his character as well as his talent and passion for this amazing game that our family loves,” Melwin added. “He has let his racquet do the talking and let his actions attest to his values. He is now imparting these same values to others and I am proud of him for that.”
Taking a glimpse to the future, Bryce’s ultimate goal is to bring a national championship to USC and to prepare his players for their time at the school, but also beyond.
“My goal always, as a coach, is to not only coach these guys to the best of their ability with tennis, but ultimately is to make them champions off the court too,” Bryce stated.