Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Homewood product trying to make it on the pro circuit

On the first day of qualies at the 2015 Winnetka Challenger, I encountered in the draw a name I hadn't seen before: Bradley Holt. I did a bit of digging, and found that he was from the middle-class Chicago suburb of Homewood, Illinois, and had played for the Western Illinois University men's tennis team - a lower-level Division I program in the town of Macomb. The Leathernecks play in the Summit League conference, which produces relatively few pro players compared to some of the higher-level conferences.

Holt played big-hitting Tom Jomby, a flamboyant Frenchman who plays for the University of Kentucky, in the first round of qualies. UK is in the much more prominent SEC conference, and Jomby was able to come through 6-1 6-4. I caught some of the second set and then asked Holt to sit down and discuss his life as a newbie on the pro circuit.

Bradley Holt. (c) Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise

First, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Bradley Holt, I'm from Homewood, IL. Robert Gates is my coach, and I've just been playing a lot of futures and lower-level events.

You're a former college player, is that correct?
Yes, I played for Western Illinois for about a year and a half, just taking off, just playing tournaments, training.

So tell me about your day today. Is this your first challenger event?
Yes, it's my first challenger event. Match was all right. I played a pretty good player - big server, big forehand, so he keeps you on the move a lot. Hard to get a rhythm, but not a bad match, overall.

What other tournaments are you looking to play this summer?
There are four Futures events all over Illinois - I'm playing all of them. The first one, Godfrey, I'm training for that one.

I notice you have a doubles ranking.
Yes, I do. I got one like a month ago in Arkansas [at the Little Rock Futures in May]. With my partner Jordan Parker. Pretty happy about that.

Tell me when you realized you got your first point, what was the feeling?
Once I found out I got it, I just dropped my bag. I was just ecstatic, was just so happy I finally got it. Because I was working at it for such a long time - once I finally got it, it was such a great feeling. And also it gave me a lot of confidence too, going forward

I also noticed that you had a win over Jason Jung, Top 200 guy.
Yep, me and my partner, Jordan, we played them [Jung and Chad Rhoden] in the quarters. We went up on them pretty big in the first set, and we were just like "we can do this." So we just kept our heads on and we got the win.

Tell me about growing up in the Chicagoland area for tennis. Did you play juniors around here?
Yes I did. I played all the midwest tournaments - Midwest Closed and Midwest Open.

When you decided to go to Western Illinois, what were the factors in your decision?
When I visited there - there were a few other schools I looked at. I looked at Illinois State, Western Michigan. I really liked the team camaraderie at Western Illinois - everyone seemed very close - the coach seemed pretty good. And also he offered me a lot of money, which helps.

Are you doing anything to supplement your income as you try to make it on the pro tour?
Yes, obviously it's very expensive - I don't come from parents who have the most money so I do a lot of coaching on the side, just teach a lot. So that definitely helps out with the traveling and everything.
Tom Jomby and Bradley Holt.
(c) Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise

What would you say the strengths of your game are? I notice you have a big first serve.
Yeah, probably my serve and my backhand are the two biggest things, and just being very steady, keeping a lot of balls in play, and then using my backhand and serve.

Are you looking at all to possibly travel for futures overseas at all?
Yes, depending on how I do this summer, if I get some points, next year I do plan on maybe going to South America, playing some Futures out there.

Clay court?
Yeah, clay court.

What's your experience on clay?
I don't really play too much on clay. Where I work actually is on clay. I like it a lot, though. Slow ball. It's good for my game - I'm a steadier player, so I actually like clay a lot. I look forward to it, for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment