Tufts Magazine logo Tufts seal
The online edition of Tuft's quarterly publication Contents Back Issues Subscribe Contact Us
Selected Features
Student Life
Magazine cover photo
Talk to Us
Send a Letter
Send a Classnote
Update your Records
Related Links
Tufts E-News link
Tufts Journal link
Tufts University link
link to Alumni Office
Tufts Career Network link
Support Tufts
Summer 2004

Becky and Jon Bram are one of the few brother-and-sister pairsplaying on the same college tennis team.

Photo by Rose Lincoln

Well Matched
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 fall.

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 straight year.

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 different.”

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 fall.

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.