Before their three-set battle in the quarterfinals of the Claremont Club Pro Classic on Friday, Brandon Holt and his USC teammate Daniel Cukierman shared a 35-mile drive from the USC campus to Claremont before warming up together.
The Tel Aviv, Israel, native and No. 2 player at USC Cukierman got off to a quick start, but Trojan No. 1 Holt from the South Bay rallied for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 win in the quarterfinals of the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures event being played at the Claremont Club.
“I think of it as we’re teammates first and opponents second so I’m not going out there just trying to kill my opponent,” Holt said. “I drove him down there and we are listening to music and we warmed up together and then we played the match.”
The 20-year-old unseeded Holt, who has won four ITF Futures doubles titles, has advanced to one other Futures semifinal, a $25,000 event in Champaign, Ill., in July of 2017. He will next face Sam Shropshire, who played four seasons at Northwestern University from 2014-2017.
In the other semifinal, former UCLA star and No. 3 seed Martin Redlicki will play No. 7 seeded Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic.
“I don’t know, I wasn’t playing my best at the start of the match,” Holt said. “It’s always weird playing your teammate. He started off playing pretty good. In the beginning I was just tentative and then as the match went on I started relaxing and hitting out on my shots.”
Both Holt and Cukierman attended night classes on campus after winning second-round matches on Thursday.
“I’m still in college and my mind-set is for the season and I’m not focused on pro tennis right now because I’m in school,” Holt said. “It is different waking up and emailing your professor and telling them you won’t be in because you’re playing a tournament. It’s not ideal but I’m in school mode right now.”
Holt said his game improved a lot this summer. “I think college players need to really focus on the summer because we don’t play year-round because we’re in school and you have other commitments,” he said.
In the doubles final played on Friday, the wild-card team of Robert Kelly and Korey Lovett beat Paul Oosterbaan and Shropshire, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
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Friday Quarterfinal Singles Scores
Martin Redlicki (US)  def. Igor Gimenez (BRA), 6-3, 6-2
Matej Vocel (CZE)  def. Henry Craig (US) , 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
Brandon Holt (US) def. Daniel Cukierman (ISR), 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Sam Shropshire (US) def. Nicolas Moreno (US) [q], 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
Friday Doubles Final Score
Robert Kelly (US) / Korey Lovett (US) def. Paul Oosterbaan (US) / Sam Shropshire (US), 7-6 (3), 6-4