Holt triumphs in marathon first-round match at ASICS Easter Bowl

April 6, 2016 09:38 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – After playing for three hours, 39 minutes in the blazing Indian Wells heat, Brandon Holt watched the final ball sail long and couldn’t even muster enough energy to raise his arms in triumph.

But it’s not like Holt (pictured above) to show much expression on the court, as the 17-year-old from Rolling Hills, Calif., has been recognized on multiple occasions for his sportsmanship and calm demeanor.

“When the match is over, it’s over, and I didn’t want to rub it in his face,” said Holt, after his 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) comeback victory over qualifier Sam Turchetta Tuesday in the first round of the ITF boys’ singles division at the 49th Annual ASICS Easter Bowl, taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “I’m just glad I played at 8 o’clock and not right now (noon) because I would have died.”

No. 8 seed Holt, who is the son of tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, said he’s in good shape and would use the rest of the day to recover from his long match. He said he was fortunate that his first-round doubles match wasn’t scheduled until Wednesday.

Last month, Holt traveled with a group of seven other top USTA players and coaches to Brazil to compete in ITF tournaments and suffered a full body cramp in one of his matches. “So I was curious how I would do out here,” he said.

Since returning to Southern California, Holt said he has yet to find his game in transitioning from the clay to the hard courts.

“I never really felt comfortable today,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going on. Something’s not clicking. Maybe it’s coming off the clay. I don’t know what it is.”

Holt served for the match twice, leading 5-3 in the third and again at 6-5. He said he sensed Turchetta getting tired during a long deuce game at 5-all. But the Pound Ridge, N.Y., resident Turchetta wouldn’t quit.

“Serving didn’t make a huge difference because there were a ton of breaks in the match,” Holt said. “I mean, I know I should hold my serve. But I knew it wasn’t in a dire circumstance that I lost my serve.”

A day after the ITF boys’ division lost its top-seeded player, the top girls’ ITF seed, Maria Mateas, had no trouble in her first-round match against Carson Branstine, 6-1, 6-2.

“I knew it was important not to stay out there long because of the heat,” said Mateas, from Braintree, Mass., who also trains in Florida with the USTA and her USTA coach Henner Nehles. “(The heat) actually felt worse just sitting around in it. I think I was just really focused for it to bother me during my match.”

Also top-seeded in doubles with partner Alexandra Sanford, the pair had a tough match against Hanna Chang and Emma Higuchi but survived the first round, 6-2, 2-6, 10-6.

Moving on easily was defending champion Claire Liu, the No. 3 seed from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who beat Darya Possokhova, 6-0, 6-1.

In boys’ 16s action, No. 1 seed Carson Haskins, No. 2 Christian Alshon, No. 3 Kevin Zhu, No. 4 Robert Maciag, No. 5 Trey Hilderbrand and No. 6 Jaycer Lyeons all moved on to the round of 16.

In the girls’ 16s, unseeded Gabriella Price of Montebello, N.Y., who won the girls’ 12s last year, upset No. 4 seed Sydney Jones of Carrollton, Texas, 6-4, 6-3.

Both the boys’ and girls’ singles finals in the 14s and 12s will be contested Wednesday. In the boys’ 14s final, No. 5 seed Andrew Dale (Leesburg, Va.) will take on No. 12 Alex Lee (Oak Brook, Ill.), and in the girls’ 14s, No. 13 Skyler Grishuk (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) will face No. 12 Ava Hrastar (Duluth, Ga.).

No. 11 seed Max Fardanesh (Albany, Calif) will battle top-seeded Samuel Landau (Los Angeles) in the boys’ 12s singles final, while No. 1 Nikki Yanez (Sarasota, Fla.) will square off against No. 2 Katrina Scott (Woodland Hills, Calif.) for the girls' 12s championship.

To keep up with all the ASICS Easter Bowl news, visit www.easterbowl.com, and check out the tournament on Facebook and Twitter.