The name Roger Federer came up a lot, and after a while, that made perfect sense. It wasn’t necessarily Federer’s game that caught the eye of Dylan Holt, or his brother Brandon – both members of the USC Men’s Tennis squad. It was the person, the demeanor of Australia’s 2017 open champion. The Holt brothers were more concerned about the man behind the racquet, a poised and soft spoken international gentleman.
That’s not to say they don’t have the game, but between the Holt brothers, it’s easy to find both Federer the Player and Federer the Man. Dylan, a junior who majors in Real Estate Development and Business Finance, is as likely to have a calculator in hand as he is a tennis racquet. Younger brother Brandon, a freshman in Business, has both hands firmly on the grip, ready for another winner, looking to launch a Federer-esque pro career when his USC career ends.
The brothers stem from a family tree full of tennis players, but the game was one of many options open to them. “Our parents were great about (encouraging us) to do whatever we want,” Dylan says, who also considered baseball and soccer before settling on a collegiate tennis program. He will depart the competitive ranks after USC to launch a business career, when he anticipates a 24/7 focus on finance.
Conversely, Brandon has climbed the junior ranks in part through USTA player development, traveling with ITF events before arriving at USC, with an eye on a potential pro career. “It’s about balance,” Brandon says of juggling academics, athletics, friends, and family. “You build tight relationships with other players and families (at tournament event). Despite the fact that I traveled all around the country, Southern Cal was still up there. The level of play doesn’t get higher than southern California.”
The Holts, along with third brother Sean, will continue to make waves in tennis until life gets in the way. Regardless of the next step, these brothers are sure to reflect the role models who surround them. One of those role models, mother Tracy Austin, is a former world #1 ranked champion. “She didn’t really coach us at all,” Dylan recalls. “Mostly she was just inspiring. We’d travel to places like New York, and we’d learn about her career from other people, not from her.”
Still it comes back to the great champion Federer, as a reflection of the brothers’ demeanor. “My role models come from all across life,” Dylan says, “not just from tennis. But if you look at (Roger) Federer, and if you strip the tennis away from him, he is still a really amazing guy.”
The USC Men’s squad hosts Stanford on Friday at 3pm at Marks Stadium, then welcome rival UCLA on Thursday, March 9.