Mom’s influence starting to pay off for Holt

December 9, 2015 10:20 AM

By Pat Mitsch, special to

PLANTATION, Fla. – Brandon Holt has always been the son of a two-time US Open singles champion, but he’s only recently started to act – and play – like it.

Holt, whose mother is former world No. 1 and 1979 and 1981 US Open singles champion Tracy Austin, continued his breakout fall at the Metropolia Orange Bowl Junior Championships on Tuesday, outlasting 15th-seeded Canadian Benjamin Sigouin, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, to reach the second round of the boys’ 18s draw in his first-ever Orange Bowl appearance.

The 17-year-old Holt worked his way through unpredictable bounces on the Frank Veltri Tennis Center’s dense, rain-soaked green clay – not the surface that suits his game the best – and his opponent’s unusual serving strategy to notch another victory in an already impressive fall season that has included his first ITF junior singles title, his first pro doubles title and a run to the US Open junior doubles title match.

Holt attributes these recent successes to a more professional approach he’s taken toward his tennis, which came about through the sort of osmosis you might expect to happen with a tennis Hall of Famer as a mother.

“My mom and everything started rubbing off on me,” said Holt. “I started to be more professional, and I’ve been really doing that a lot more. I used to be full time at school and be kind of focused on both (school and tennis), but now I’m really trying to focus more on tennis and using all the time in my day to help me on the court.”

Holt still attends Palos Verdes High School in California – the same school attended by Pete Sampras – but front-loaded his courses early on in his high school career. Now, he has the rest of his senior year to complete the one remaining credit he needs to graduate this summer. Therefore, he’s had more time to dedicate to tennis, and that’s starting to show.

In September, Holt and fellow American Riley Smith reached the US Open junior doubles final as a wild-card entry. Later that month, Holt and Smith – both USC recruits; Smith’s father is USC men’s tennis coach Peter Smith – won their first USTA Pro Circuit doubles title at the Men’s Futures in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Holt then swept the singles and doubles titles at the ITF Pan-American Championships junior tournament in October in Tulsa, Okla., again as a wild-card entry.

“I’ve been getting good confidence from these tournaments, but I feel like I’m getting more confidence off the court,” Holt said. “I feel like I’ve been working hard and doing a lot of good stuff compared to what I used to do, which was just kind of play tennis, but when I’m not playing tennis, do other stuff, like school and other things.”

Holt said his mom – the youngest singles champion (16) in US Open history – has also helped him with the mental aspect of the game, which likely came in handy on Tuesday. Sigouin – who Holt noticed was struggling with an apparent abdominal injury – continually hit underhand serves, but, as Holt described, only on the first serve, and only when serving from the ad, or left, side of the court.

“He didn’t really want to have any long points," Holt said. "He’d go for it on the first ball, but every once in a while he’d try to rally, and that was really tough for me to stay in the rally because I didn’t have any groove. I didn’t feel comfortable hitting the ball because the whole entire match I was just trying to literally put it in and just play defense, almost.

"I’m glad that I came out with the win. I was pretty tight on his service games, just because I feel like I should be beating someone serving underhand. But then, it was only on one side and only on the first serve. So who knows?”


View Tuesday's complete results by clicking here. Ongoing rain interrupted play several times on Tuesday and ultimately halted the day's matches by 7 p.m. A number of first-round matches were posptoned until Wednesday, including defending champion Sofia Kenin's first-round girls' 18s match.

And check for the latest draws and order of play.