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Family ties bring out the best in a brother-sister team. Tufts
tennis is a lucky benefactor.
Siblings Jon and Becky Bram were together at Tufts for two
very good years. The unique brother-sister combo from nearby
Winchester, Massachusetts, has been part of a tennis resurgence
at the university.
Veteran men’s and women’s tennis coach Jim Watson
has led several New England championship teams and NCAA Tournament
qualifiers in his 22 years on campus, but the teams dipped
competitively in the late 1990s. Today Tufts is back on top,
with Jon and Becky Bram playing leading roles, as both teams
qualified for their respective NCAA Tournaments this spring.
Tufts has been the perfect fit for the Brams. Jon graduated
in May with a degree in economics. Becky, a human factors engineering
and biomedical engineering double major, will be a junior this
The siblings were together at Tufts for the first time in the
fall of 2002. Jon had been the tennis team’s MVP as a
freshman, while Becky was considered one of New England’s
top-ranked players throughout her youth and was recruited by
Division I programs. Watson was thrilled to have them both.
“There aren’t too many brother-and-sister pairs
playing on the same college tennis team,” Watson said. “They
both played multiple sports in high school, and they could
have done so here. Thankfully for me and the team, they decided
to focus on tennis. Their athletic ability translates very
positively to tennis. They also know that they need to improve,
so they take criticism positively.”
Jon played in three straight NCAA Tournaments with the men’s
team, including their 5–2 loss to Bowdoin in the first
round on May 1. At the New England Small College Athletic Conference
(NESCAC) Championships this past spring, he advanced to the
championship match of #1 Doubles with partner Rifat Perahya,
who hails from Istanbul. The pair literally came within inches
of winning the conference championship, and a berth into the
NCAA Doubles Championships, when a backhand volley was inches
long on match point. They ended up losing the match, but the
pairing with Perahya was a highlight for Jon.
“Both of us are very naturally emotional,” Jon
said. “We’re pretty crazy on the court. There’s
a lot of fist pumping, a lot of grunting. That’s the
way we are, we’re not quiet guys on the court. I play
my best when I’m just completely crazy.”
Becky also stepped right into a leading role on the women’s
tennis team, earning an invitation to the NCAA Singles championships
in her freshman season. This spring the team attained a #3
national ranking at the end of the fall season in November.
She won both of her matches in the NCAA team tournament, as
Tufts advanced to the regional championship match for the fourth
The Brams’ success at Tufts is even more remarkable considering
that they lost their mom, Ellen, on April 23, 2002. A recurrence
of uterine cancer struck quickly. Jon was in the middle of
his sophomore year, while Becky was a senior in high school,
already accepted to Tufts.
Parents Norm and Ellen Bram had placed a high priority on family
while raising the kids. Despite nearly two years difference
in their ages, Jon and Becky were treated like twins. The closeness
they developed as children shines brightly today. They speak
for each other proudly and laugh at each other easily. The
opportunity to be close to their dad, and to each other, while
taking in all that Tufts has to offer, was an ideal situation.
“It’s great having her here,” Jon said. “We’re
best friends. If she were elsewhere, things would be a lot
Though she doesn’t lose often, Becky says thinking of
her mom helps keep things in perspective on the tennis court.
”Winning or losing didn’t really matter to my mom,” Becky
said. “When something happens in tennis, if I lose, and
I’m upset, if I were to tell her about it, I know how
she would react, and that makes me smile.”
Despite academic and athletic achievements at Win-chester High
School that would have impressed many colleges, both Jon and
Becky only applied to Tufts. Each sent early-decision applications
and then crossed their fingers.
“We couldn’t wait to hear from Tufts,” said
their father, Norm. “It got to the point where we couldn’t
bear to think of them going anywhere else.”
With Jon’s graduation on May 23, the brother-sister combo
are no longer together at the university. Jon looks to combine
his financial and sales skills in the workforce. Becky will
continue on at Tufts, where she’s also on the executive
board and is the webmaster for the Human Factors and Ergonomics
Society. She’ll be studying abroad in Australia in the
Life goes on. The Bram siblings have a good understanding of
that. Norm Bram has remarried, to the former Barbara Young,
who holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Tufts Medical School.
The family now resides in Lexington, Massachusetts.
“They were as supportive as humanly possible in that
situation,” Norm said about his kids, who encouraged
him to meet someone and warmly welcomed Barbara into the family.
Family comes first for Jon and Becky Bram, and Tufts is happy
to play a part.