Junior Spotlight: Brandon Holt

Sportsmanship has always been an important part of Brandon Holt’s game. Although it’s not as effective as a strong passing shot, or as powerful as a consistent slice backhand, it’s something that has helped Holt become one of the nation’s top prospects.

“Growing up, my parents and my grandparents always stressed good sportsmanship and said they won’t remember if you won or lost, but how you acted on the court,” said the 17-year-old Holt, who has won three sportsmanship awards during his career. “And that has always stuck with me.”

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Brandon Holt with mother Tracy Austin at the SCTA Awards Night.

Holt recently was honored by the Southern California Tennis Association with the Evelyn Houseman Sportsmanship Award along with Ena Shibahara at the SCTA Awards Night held at UCLA.

“When I look at kids who are not nice on the court, I don’t want to be like them, Holt added. “I think that I do carry myself with a good attitude on the court.”

Holt, who will play in the upcoming USTA/ITF International Spring Championships in Carson followed by the ASICS Easter Bowl in the desert, was honored with a similar award at the USTA 18s Nationals at Kalamazoo last September.

The return to the SoCal hardcourts will be welcomed by Holt, who has been training on the clay with seven other top USTA players, including Sam Riffice, Patrick Kypson, Oliver Crawford, Gianni Ross, and Zeke Clark. The Team USA juniors recently took part in two big ITF events in Brazil, including the long-standing Banana Bowl where Holt beat the No. 5 seed from Italy before falling in the Round of 16 to the No. 6 seed from Germany, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Brandon Holt

“I’m working on getting acclimated to the clay,” Holt said. “It’s a lot different and something that doesn’t suit my game, but I’m just trying to hold my own against the best. I have a hard court game, but I like the challenge and I like playing on it.”

He added: “It’s fun at home, but there are so many guys to hit with and you don’t really have to worry about your schedule. There are so many good coaches here and trainers.

The Rolling Hills resident Holt, whose mother is tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, first got people’s attention by winning The Ojai CIF Doubles title as a sophomore two years ago playing for Palos Verdes High. He opted to play singles last year at The Ojai and lost in the semifinals to Bjorn Hoffmann. Holt followed that up with big singles wins in the CIF-Southern Section Individuals, and the SCTA Sectionals.

After a solid Kalamazoo, Holt and future USC teammate Riley Smith made the final at the US Open Junior Championships in doubles.

Because he opted to train in Boca Raton, Fla., with the USTA, Holt has had to continue his school with an independent study program and he will not be able to compete in The Ojai CIF division, or defend his CIF section singles title.

“It was just too hard to keep up with and so many trips,” Holt said. “I’m really going to miss playing for a team, but I’m still planning on going to Ojai to play the pros (Open).”

And of course there is potentially four more years playing The Ojai for the Trojans.

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