During a family vacation to St. George in the summer of 2003, Brad and Cindi Pearce succumbed to pressure and let their boys, John and Matthew, hit a few tennis balls.
Nine years later, and they still haven't stopped hitting.
As the younger brother in their skirmishes, Matthew's wins have been few and far between. He beat his older sibling in a tournament when he was 8, and once earlier this year when John claimed tendonitis slowed him down.
"I hadn't heard about any tendonitis before we stepped on the court," Matthew, a Timpview junior, said with a gleam in his eye that only a brother can appreciate.
As John mowed down the competition in the 4A tournament this past spring to claim his third consecutive No. 1 singles crown, the younger brother claimed his second title at No. 2 singles.
Having grown several inches this year, and adding 15 pounds of raw, tennis-inspired muscle, Matthew appears ready to grab his share of the limelight heading into his junior year.
"It just kind of happened overnight with his recent growth spurt," said his father Brad Pearce. "He's a tremendous athlete and has a nice feel for the game, but now he's bigger and stronger."
He'll need all of that strength and athleticism, plus a few pre-match coaching tips from dad as Pearce participates in the 16-and-under Western Zonal Tournament in Salt Lake City this week.
"Matthew is playing No. 1 singles for the Utah team, but there will be teams from southern and northern California, along with some of the best talent in the western United States," Brad Pearce said.
After playing several big singles tournaments this summer, Matthew Pearce looks forward to being on the No. 1 Utah team.
"We'll have five people on a team," he said. "I like the team format because it makes you fight a little harder, because you don't want to be the one who lets the team down."
Pearce looks forward to the tournament that runs through Saturday because his grandparents and family will get to see him play.
"It's a huge home-court advantage with the altitude, and we don't get too many national tournaments in Salt Lake City," he said.
Action began Wednesday and will run through Saturday with matches being played at Liberty Park and at the Salt Lake City Swim and Tennis Club.
Matthew Pearce at a glance
A rising junior and 4.0 student, Pearce will play No. 1 singles for the Utah squad in the Western Zonal Tournament this week.
Pearce earned a No. 2 singles title for Timpview during the high school season.
Older brother John Pearce won three No. 1 singles titles in a row at Timpview.