Over the years at the prestigious Orange Bowl International junior tennis tournament, many parents have been seen living vicariously through their children, craving athletic glory they never achieved themselves.
Olga Danilovic and Brandon Holt don’t have that issue with their parents. In both cases, there is a parent who knows first-hand what it feels like to be an elite athlete. Danilovic’s father is former Heat shooting guard Sasha Danilovic. Holt’s mother is former world No. 1 and two-time U.S. Open champion Tracy Austin.
Perhaps that pedigree is one reason Danilovic and Holt pulled off first-round upsets to advance to the second round of the tournament, which continues through Sunday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation.
Danilovic, only 14, knocked off the top-seeded defending champion Sofia “Sonya” Kenin 6-0, 5-7, 7-5 on Wednesday in the girls’ 18s first round. The basketball player’s daughter got his height (6 feet and still growing). She also has power, and used it against Kenin, who trains in Pembroke Pines and is the world’s No. 2-ranked junior. Kenin had beaten Danilovic easily 6-2, 6-0 last week at the Eddie Herr championships in Bradenton.
“I didn’t know her [at Eddie Herr], so I didn’t know what to play. So she attacked me,” said Danilovic, who is playing her first Grade A event. “This time, I know how I have to play, and I started playing from the first point like that — more aggressive. From the first point to the last, I felt I can beat her.”
Holt, a 17-year-old from Palos Verdes, Calif., ousted 15th seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. It is Holt’s first time playing the Orange Bowl. Earlier this fall, he won his first junior singles title and reached the U.S. Open junior doubles final.
“My mom and everything started rubbing off on me,” Holt said. “I started to be more professional, and I’ve been really doing that a lot more. I used to be full-time at school and be kind of focused on both [school and tennis], but now I’m really trying to focus more on tennis and using all the time in my day to help me on the court.”
Holt attends Palos Verdes High School in California — the same school attended by Pete Sampras — but front-loaded his courses early in his high school career so he now has more time for tennis.
Due to rain delays early in the week the 18s girls and boys third round and quarterfinals will be played Friday.