You might think Christian Harrison was following in his older brother Ryan’s footsteps when he was drafted to the 2019 Aviators this spring. After all, Ryan made his WTT debut three years ago on Coach John Lloyd’s 2016 Aviators championship squad. But, perhaps surprisingly, it was the younger Harrison brother who first took on World TeamTennis, playing first for the Boston Lobsters in 2015 and then joining the Aviators’ rivals, the Orange County Breakers, for one match in 2018. “There’s something I beat him to the punch on for a change. He’s normally the first to experience things tennis-wise in our family,” laughs Christian.
“I’d played a couple matches before and I always had a lot of fun with it,” he continues. “My brother had a great time with San Diego and he started playing really well. It did a lot of good things for his career and not only that, the matches are competitive and it’s a fun atmosphere, so I definitely wanted to be a part of [the Aviators]. Whenever you hear so many positive things, I think it’s just an easy thing to say yes to.”
In 2012, the brothers partnered to reach the U.S. Open doubles quarterfinals together after receiving a main draw wild card from the USTA. However, never having crossed paths before in WTT, this summer will be the first opportunity for the two to bring their family chemistry to the league. “Honestly, we have so much fun playing together,” says Christian of playing with Ryan. “He obviously serves really well and I return pretty well, and just the way we play, our styles complement each other. But more importantly, the excitement that we feel on the court, I think everybody can see.”
“My brother and I were just always around the sport,” Christian explains. “It was just what we liked. We were competitive with each other so that kind of drew us to the sport even more — that we could play tennis together and practice together, and it was something that we’d become accustomed to at a very young age.”
Growing up in a tennis family — in addition to Ryan, his father, Pat, is a longtime coach, and his younger sister, Madison, played for Mississippi State University — Christian was practically born with a racquet in his hand. But the game that’s been such a tremendous part of his life hasn’t come without challenges, injuries, and setbacks, including seven surgeries, which have taken him out of the game for significant amounts of time. Now healthy, he’s fully embracing the opportunity to be back on the court and once again working toward being his best.
“I’ve missed so much time, and there’s not too much you can do about [that], so I’m just looking at things from a week-to-week standpoint,” he says. “Obviously I have certain goals as far as getting my ranking up, looking to qualify for slams, and trying to get to as many tour events as possible, so that’s honestly what I’m looking for these next couple months.” He’ll first be traveling to Portugal and then on to Israel, after which he plans to stay in Europe through Wimbledon. Then, it will be time to return to the U.S. to take his place in the Aviators’ lineup.
In addition to the one teammate he likely knows better than almost anyone — his brother — Christian is eager to play alongside Jonny O’Mara, against whom he competed last year and has since forged a friendship with as they share anticipation for the upcoming WTT season. “I’ve hung out with him recently and we’ve become pretty good friends. We’ve talked a bit about the summer and we’re looking forward it,” he says, admitting that, like O’Mara, he’s hoping to make time for a round or two of golf at La Costa while they’re here. “That’s what we’ve been talking a lot about, mostly!”
Catch all the exciting tennis action live at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa beginning with the July 19 home opener, when Christian Harrison and his fellow Aviators face off against the Las Vegas Rollers.