ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif., June 29, 2022 (by Steve Pratt)
One was a highly decorated college All-American and former No. 1 player for the USC Trojans, while the other won the USTA Kalamazoo Hardcourt Junior Nationals twice and won a round in the main draw at the US Open last year.
Brandon Holt, 24, of Rolling Hills Estates and Zachary Svajda, 19, of Hermosa Beach are now doing battle on the ITF/USTA Pro Circuit trying to earn valuable ranking points that will ultimately get them into larger ATP events and eventually the Grand Slams. Both Holt and Svajda the top-seeded players in their hometown SoCal Pro Circuit ITF $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament taking place at the Jack Kramer Club this week, and both opened with impressive first-round wins on Tuesday.
Holt and Svajda beat fellow SoCal players on the first day of main-draw action, which also saw final-round qualifiers gain entry into the main draw. Holt beat Eduardo Nava of Northridge and recently Wake Forest University, 6-4, 6-0, in the evening’s featured match in front of a packed crowd at his home club while Svajda downed wild card and Arizona State senior Jacob Bullard of Calabasas, 6-1, 6-0.
Doubles partners this week, Holt and Svajda are the No. 2-seeded team and play their first-round doubles on Wednesday.
“I played alright to get the win,” said Svajda, who trains with USTA National coach David Nainkin in Carson and also travels with local South Bay coach Rick Buchta.
Top-seeded at the Barnes Tennis Center event two weeks ago, Svajda lost in the first round. “I was nervous and didn’t play good,” he said. “I’ve been struggling this year but it’s OK. I’m home this week and will play these final L.A. Futures. Plus, I’m home so it’s all good.”
Svajda, who grew up in Mission Beach in San Diego, won Kalamazoo at age 16 to earn the US Open main-draw wild card in 2019, and again in 2021 as the tournament was not held in 2020 because of Covid. After winning his first Grand Slam match at the Open last September, Svajda took a set off No. 13 Jannik Sinner before falling in four tight sets.
Future Harvard player and recent SoCal junior Sectionals finalist Masato Perera of Santa Barbara had a big first-round win earning his first ATP point and taking advantage of his main-draw wild card beating Tsung-Hao Huang of Taipei, 6-1, 6-2.
On the women’s side, 14-year-old Iva Jovic of Torrance did the same winning her first WTA point in her first ITF Pro Circuit tournament. Jovic, who upset No. 5 seed former UCLA star Jada Hart, received a wild card into the event and is coached by current Kramer Club GM former USC Coach Peter Smith.
Recent USC grad Salma Ewing, current Trojan Eryn Cayetano, current UCLA Bruin Kimi Hance of Torrance and Megan McCray of Oceanside all advanced to the second round on Tuesday.
Barnes Tennis Center Open singles winner Makenna Jones, whose father Kelly Jones was an NCAA doubles champion in the 1980s from Pepperdine, was the top-seeded women in qualifying and won two rounds to enter the main draw. Other qualifiers with SoCal ties included: former Illinois and LMU player Keenan Mayo, Washington State junior Maxine Murphy from Laguna Niguel, San Diego 17-year-old Katherine Hui and Stanford-bound Emma Sun of Newbury Park.
The is the fourth week of the SoCal Pro Circuit with the first three taking place in San Diego County. Next week the circuit heads to Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley before concluding at the Lakewood Tennis Center. Each tournament features men’s and women’s main draws of 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams. Each tournament is open to the public, with free admission.