SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN DAY #6: HOLT MOVES INTOPRO TENNIS | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
THE FINALS BEFORE RAIN HITS INDIAN WELLS
THE FINALS BEFORE RAIN HITS INDIAN WELLS
JANUARY 20, 2024 | STEVE PRATT
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN DAY #6: HOLT MOVES INTO THE FINALS BEFORE RAIN HITS INDIAN WELLSUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
JANUARY 20, 2024
Top: Brandon Holt has moved into the finals at the Southern California Open.
(Photo – Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)
Middle: American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski wins on Day #4 at Indian Wells.
(Photo – Lexie Wanninger/USTA SoCal)
Bottom: Irvine’s Learner Tien moves into the quarterfinals on Day #3.
(Photo – Lexie Wanninger/USTA SoCal)
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DAY #6 OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN ATP CHALLENGER 50 AT INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
SATURDAY’S CHALLENGER CHAT:
Playing in a familiar setting in front of family and friends, former USC All-American Brandon Holt moved into the singles final of the Southern California Open with a close, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(3), win over No. 6 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski. Holt, 25, will go to sleep tonight not knowing who he will face in the final as the semifinal that followed his match between Paul Jubb and Mitchell Krueger was called for the day when the forecasted rainstorm hit the desert around 1 p.m. with Krueger leading 6-4, 3-2.
Holt from Rolling Hills Estates was playing free and errorless tennis taking the first set, 6-2, and went up a break for a 5-3 lead where it looked like he would serve it out at 5-4. But the 2017 NCAA champion from the University of Virginia Kwiatkowski had other thoughts and broke to even the match and eventually take the second set.
“It was a tough match,” Holt said. “It was going routine for me, and I served for it, but Thai doesn’t go away…He’s always there. He ended up playing well into the third set and I was able to scrap it out.”
Both players were locked in during the third set and it was anyone’s match once the tiebreaker rolled around. “It’s who can handle the pressure the most at that point,” said Holt, the No. 3 seed who needed three sets in three of his four wins all after winning the first set and dropping the second this week.
“That’s tennis,” he said. “It’s something that I’m good at. It would have been easy to be mad at yourself [after losing the second set]. If I felt like I was in control for a full two sets, then I think I can do it for a third.”
Sunday will be a full day with both finals, and qualifying beginning for Week 2 of the Southern California Open after the finals are played. In the doubles final, the top-seeded pairing of Ryan Seggerman and Patrik Trhac, both San Diego natives, will take on Kwiatkowski and fellow American Alex Lawson after the semifinal and before the singles final.
DAY #5 OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN ATP CHALLENGER 50 AT INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
FRIDAY’S CHALLENGER CHAT:
The jet lag having passed from his recent return trip from Thailand, Brandon Holt faced what he called an “emotional” day on the court taking on his former USC teammate Daniel Cukierman from Israel for a coveted spot in the semifinals of the Southern California Open ATP Challenger 50 taking place this week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Holt and Cukierman were teammates for three seasons at USC from 2017 to 2020, and together experienced the brutal shutdown of their promising season because of Covid in the spring of 2020.
“There was a lot more emotion going on in this match than I expected,” said Holt, the No. 3 seed who came out on top over his good friend, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0. “I just consider him more like a brother. One thing our coach Peter Smith did was to have a team that was unbelievably close. Our team chat earlier today was putting a bunch of popcorn emojis in there as we were getting ready for the match.”
Holt continued: “I always want Daniel to do the very best and I’m one of his biggest fans. There have been times this week when we were playing next to each other and I thought, ‘We’ve done this a million times at USC.’ I don’t know. I’m not super good at playing my friends. I don’t know why that is. It was a good match and I played well enough to win.”
Holt moves on to face No. 6 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA champion from the University of Virginia in Saturday’s semifinals.
Holt said playing at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, “Feels like a second home to me. It’s a pretty important place for young tennis players to come back to, especially if you’re from Southern California.”
The 2019 NCAA champ from the University of South Carolina, Paul Jubb, also advanced to the semifinals where he will meet No. 4 Mitchell Krueger, who took out Irvine’s Learner Tien, 6-4, 7-6 (6). Jubb outlasted Tien’s training partner from Temecula Omni Kumar in three sets, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1.
SATURDAY’S LOOK AHEAD:
The doubles final will be contested not before 1 p.m. featuring one of the hottest doubles team on the ATP Tour in the top-seeded pairing of Ryan Seggerman and Patrik Trhac, both San Diego natives. For the third straight day, the duo split sets only to come back and win the super-tiebreaker. This time it went 10-3 in their favor over Greece’s Markos Kalovelonis and Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe in the semifinals. Seggerman-Trhac, who have now won an incredible 44 matches out of their last 46 matches (including 10 of 12 titles), will face Kwiatkowski and fellow American Alex Lawson in the final to see if they can start another title streak.
DAY #4 OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN ATP CHALLENGER 50 AT INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
THURSDAY’S CHALLENGER CHAT:
Three of the four second-round matches went the distance and all were close as two former NCAA singles champions kept up their winning ways in the desert at the Southern California Open ATP Challenger 50 being played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. No. 6 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski – the 2017 Division I titlist from the University of Virginia – was the only one who moved into Friday’s quarterfinals in straight sets beating German Tim Handel, 6-3, 7-6 (6). Handel, 27, played his college tennis at Northern Arizona University. The 2019 NCAA champ from South Carolina, Paul Jubb, had to come back to fend off the stubborn qualifier from Florida’s Stefan Kozlov, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Irvine’s Omni Kumar sent Stanford sophomore Nishesh Basavareddy back to Palo Alto with a solid, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, scoreline. For the second straight match, top-seeded doubles pairing Ryan Seggerman and Patrik Trhac won the first set, dropped the second and then pulled out a 10-7 match tiebreaker, this time against Israel’s Yshai Oliel and Matias Soto from Chile. The San Diegans next draw No. 3 seeded Markos Kalovelonis from Greece and Benjamin Lock from Zimbabwe in Friday’s semis.
MATCH OF THE DAY:
Before his doubles was extended to the max, the singles wild card Seggerman lost a heartbreaker against No. 2 Marco Trungelliti from Argentina, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (4).
FRIDAY’S LOOK AHEAD:
It’s never easy playing a teammate. That’s the situation facing former USC Trojans Brandon Holt and Daniel Cukierman. Holt played at USC for four seasons from 2017 to 2020. As a sophomore, Holt welcomed his new teammate, Cukierman, who would ascend to the No. 1 ITA singles ranking in all of college tennis in the fall of 2019. Like Holt, Cukierman decided to forgo his final college season and turned pro. The two square off at 10 a.m. for a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.
DAY #3 OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN ATP CHALLENGER 50 AT INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
WEDNESDAY’S CHALLENGER CHAT:
Three of the four winners in singles at the Southern California Open are former USC Trojans as No. 3 Brandon Holt, his former USC teammate Daniel Cukierman and teenager Learner Tien all played for the Men of Troy and moved into Friday’s quarterfinals with straight-set wins at the ATP Challenger 50 taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. College tennis was definitely the theme of the day as seven of the eight of those second-round matches involved former college players. No. 3-seed Holt downed former Northwestern star Strong Kirchheimer, 6-3, 6-3; No. 4 seed Mitchell Krueger beat Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Lock, who played for Florida State, 6-4,6-4; Tien of Irvine got past Italy’s Giovanni Oradini, who played for Mississippi State, and Israel’s Cukierman eliminated Japan’s James Trotter, 6-4, 6-4. Trotter won the NCAA Doubles title last season playing for Ohio State.
MATCH OF THE DAY:
The ATP’s hottest doubles team, San Diego County natives Ryan Seggerman and Patrik Trhac, the top-seeded team this week, started strong and outlasted the tough South American pairing of Gonzalo Lama of Chile and Marco Trungelliti of Argentina with the locals eking out a, 6-4, 3-6, 10-7, victory to advance for their first win of the year.
THURSDAY’S LOOK AHEAD:
On Tuesday, Coronado’s Ryan Seggerman took advantage of his USTA Southern California wild card and beat former UCLA Bruin Evan Zhu in straight sets. The former Princeton and University of North Carolina player faces a tough test Thursday against No. 2 seeded Marco Trungelliti. The 33-year-old veteran Trungelliti is ranked No. 224 in the world and has won 11 ITF singles titles. Seggerman captured his maiden ITF singles title in Tunisia in September.
DAY #2 OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN ATP CHALLENGER 50 AT INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
TUESDAY’S CHALLENGER CHAT:
Unseeded former Duke star Omni Kumar from Irvine led a group of eight Americans and three Southern Californians who won first-round matches on Tuesday at the Southern California Open, an ATP Challenger 50 tournament taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The 22-year-old Kumar upset top-seeded Federico Gaio of Italy, 6-3, 6-2. Gaio is ranked just inside the world top 200 at No. 198. In an all-SoCal match-up pitting Irvine’s Learner Tien and Newport Beach qualifier Max McKennon, Tien came out on top, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0. Two former NCAA singles champions also moved on to the second round as Britain’s Paul Jubb (South Carolina) and American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Virginia) won straight-set matches.
MATCH OF THE DAY:
No. 3-seeded wild card Brandon Holt of Rolling Hills Estates righted the ship after a second-set loss, eliminating Blaise Bicknell of Jamaica, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. “I don’t even know what day it is,” Holt told RadioTennis.com’s Ken Thomas after the mach. “I just got back from two weeks playing Challengers in Thailand, so I was feeling the jet lag a bit out there.”
WEDNESDAY’S LOOK AHEAD:
The ATP’s hottest doubles team, San Diego County natives Ryan Seggerman and Patrik Trhac, the top-seeded team this week, will open up play against Gonzalo Lama of Chile and Marco Trungelliti of Argentina. The pairing have won 10 of their last 12 tournaments and finished the year with an incredible 41-2 mark. Can they keep the magic mojo going and grab another tourney title this week?
DAY #1 OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN ATP CHALLENGER 50 AT INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
MONDAY CHALLENGER CHAT:
Arizona State senior Max McKennon of Newport Beach took advantage of his wild card winning two matches to qualify for the main draw at the Southern California Open, an ATP Challenger 50 event taking place this week and next at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. On Monday, McKennon, 21, came back to beat Stanford freshman and fellow wild card Nico Godsick in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Godsick is the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer and popular ESPN tennis commentator Mary Jo Fernandez. Former UCLA standout Keegan Smith fell to No. 4 seed Ajeet Rai of New Zealand and Utah’s Quinn Vandecasteele (No. 11) also fell short of qualifying falling 6-4 in the third set against Chile’s Matias Soto. Other qualifying winners entering the first round include: Patrick Brady (Great Britain), James Tracy (U.S.) and Stefan Kozlov (U.S).
MONDAY’S FEATURED MATCH OF THE DAY:
Former USC Star Daniel Cukierman upset Wimbledon champion Vasek Pospisil of Canada, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, in one of five first-round matches played on Monday. The 33-year-old Pospisil is ranked No. 453 in the world and trying to work his way back into the rankings having reached a career high of No. 25 in the world in 2015. He got to the singles quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2015 and the year before, Pospisil won the Wimbledon doubles title with American Jack Sock.
LOOKING AHEAD TO TUESDAY:
McKennon gets no break as he returns for a third straight day to face Irvine’s Learner Tien, the two-time Kalamazoo Junior Nationals champion, in the first round of the main draw in the second match on with a 10 a.m. start. McKennon was named All-Pac-12 Second Team last season for the Sun Devils, while Tien was All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention playing one freshman semester for USC before turning pro.
Play continues all week at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and admission and parking for the $41,000 event is free.