Tennis offers Philip Murdock the opportunity to identify himself past being a brother


To set the scene, first, imagine all of the Murdock boys: junior Philip Murdock, his brothers, freshman Matthew and alum Joe Murdock, and their dad and grandpa, all on the Haig Point golf course in South Carolina, the best round of golf Philip has ever played—regardless of the fact that there was no written record—all in the pouring rain. 

Covered in countless layers of clothes and pounded by constant sheets of wind and rain, they laughed and played what Philip regarded as ‘the most fun round of golf he has ever played.’

When one envisions this, it can only be imagined that the three youngest Murdock boys may have appeared more similar than they tend to be walking the halls of FHC.

“Everyone compares us,” Philip said. “Especially teachers and adults. They all always mention my brothers, especially since they knew my older brother first. They’ll always say, ‘Oh, you’re so much like him,’ or, ‘You look so much like him.’”

Philip’s older brother, Joe, graduated last year, and his younger brother, Matthew, is a freshman, leaving Philip to reside as the middle child. While some condemn the middle position in the lineup, Philip appreciates the age order he has fallen into. He enjoys the space it provides.

“I like being the middle because I feel like there’s not as much of a focus on me as there is on both of my brothers,” Philip said. “It kind of gives me some alone-ness. I don’t really know how to explain, I guess it kind of gives me my own thing.”

Regardless, this alone-ness can only offer him so much space with all of the similar interests he shares with his brothers.

The three boys share similar interests, all play golf, look relatively similar, and attend the same school, making it difficult for Philip to identify himself as an individual, not just as someone’s brother. 

This lends them to a constant comparison by peers and adults, like Philip said, which is frustrating for him because Philip knows that he is a vastly different individual then each of his brothers.

“It gets pretty old sometimes because you hear the same things over and over again,” Philip said, “especially when you are trying to kind of create your own identity.”

A natural competition created between the boys offers a perfect opportunity for Philip to break away from the idea that he is the same as each of his brothers.

“There is definitely a lot of competition naturally,” Philip said. “My parents, mostly my Dad, are really intent on us building relationships, but that definitely comes with some competition, especially now that we all play competitive golf.”

Do not take this in a negative way, however, competition drives Philip to work a lot harder than he would without his familiar competitors. 

“The competition is definitely a good thing most of the time because it’s definitely motivation to get better and pushes me to work harder,” Philip said. “Having an older brother is great because it gives me kind of an outline of what he did and helps me so that I don’t make the same mistakes he did and so I can improve upon my experiences.” 

For Philip, this has helped him learn to balance his school and social life, and he uses tennis as an outlet to express himself as an individual.

Tennis gives me sort of an identity and helps people know me as more than just “Little Joe” or “Big Matthew.’

Philip tends to excel at tennis, and academically, he places a lot of emphasis on getting good grades.

“I try and be a mix of both,” Philip said. “I play tennis a lot and I still try and hang out with my friends as much as possible, but I also am a little bit more academically focused than they are.”

Philip is grateful to have his brothers to push him, not only to be better in competitions, but also to break out as an individual and try new things. In finding a passion in tennis, as opposed to his brothers who lean more towards golf, he has begun to create some sort of identity in tennis.

“Tennis gives me sort of an identity and helps people know me as more than just ‘Little Joe’ or ‘Big Matthew,’” Philip said.