By: Steve Pratt
FLUSHING, N.Y. – Brandon Holt and Riley Smith are making people forget who their tennis noteworthy parents are, and making names for themselves at this year’s U.S. Open.
The Southern California USTA wild-card team won their third straight super-tiebreakeron Friday in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Junior Championships, advancing toSunday’s final where they will face the Canadian team of Felix Auger Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov. They came back to beat the team of South African Lloyd George Harris and Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki in the semifinals, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8, at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
Holt is the son of Scott Holt and former world No. 1 Tracy Austin, who actually was on the schedule Friday and played in the women’s legends championship match on the same court as her son immediately following Holt’s match.
“I think she’s really proud,” Holt, 17, said of his mom, who won the U.S. Open in 1979 as a 16-year-old and again in 1981. “She’s really supportive and following our matches when she has more important things to do like warm up for her match; She’s watching us.”
Being back-to-back on an order of play sheet with your mom does not happen very often, especially at a Grand Slam. Perhaps inspired by her son, Austin went out with partner Gigi Fernandez and posted a super tiebreaker win of her own over Martina Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. The two play in the final on Saturdayagainst Lindsay Davenport and Mary Joe Fernandez.
Smith’s father is Peter Smith, the USC men’s coach who has won five NCAA team titles over the past seven years. Unfortunately, he head to return to Los Angeles for a USC team function and missed the match.
“It was strange because on his credential it said coach, and not dad, so that was a little different,” said Smith, who often plays doubles with his father. “He’s always just supporting us and wants us to do well. He’s taught me everything I know.”
Holt said he spent his younger years playing video games and eating candy and drinking Coke in the players’ lounge while at the U.S. Open with his mom, a tennis commentator for many years. “I would just sit in the suites and not really care about watching the tennis. I really like tennis, playing it and not watching it, I guess.”
With one more win at the U.S. Open, Holt will join his mother as a Grand Slam champion. “I thought we had a chance to make the final,” Holt said. “We had a really good Kalamazoo and there are some very good teams that were in that tournament.”