It didn’t matter if he was in the classroom or on the tennis court, recent Palos Verdes High graduate Sean Holt wanted to make sure he always gave the maximum effort.
“No matter what it is, I always try to give 100 percent,” Holt said. “I don’t want to look back feeling like I could have done more. I want to reflect and say ‘I did all I could’.”
It was this mentality that gave PV tennis coach Kip Brady all he needed to tab Holt as his nominee for one of PV’s Most Inspirational Athlete awards.
“I always appreciated how Sean would give 100 percent on the court, and that’s not always the case with high school tennis players,” Brady said. “He was a good example for the rest of the team on how to work hard and give your best effort.”
Holt found out he was named as one of PV’s Most Inspirational Athletes when seniors went to campus to pick up their graduation packets May 28.
A four-year starter on the PV boys tennis team, Holt is the youngest of three boys. Their mother is International Women’s Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin.
“Growing up, I was always around tennis, but I never felt any pressure from my parents to play,” Holt said. “Up until I was in eighth grade, I played four sports – baseball, basketball, lacrosse and tennis.”
Once he started playing tennis at PV, Holt said his views changed.
“Tennis really sparked my interest in high school, and I was hooked,” Holt said. “From that point on, I knew I wanted to be a college tennis player.”
And it wasn’t just any college that Holt set his sights on. It was USC, where his brother Brandon played after staring at PV.
“Brandon playing there was a big factor in me putting so much in,” Holt said. “It was my dream to play tennis at USC, and once I got that opportunity, I was ecstatic.”
Holt was offered an athletic scholarship to attend USC, but his acceptance wasn’t based just on athletics alone. During his four years at PV, he was a member of PV’s California Scholarship Federation (CSF), National Honors Society (NHS), and Los Hermanos. He also carried a weighted 4.4 GPA.
During his senior year, Holt was also a member of PV’s student section, the Red Tide.
“Growing up, I was always a social kid, and I wanted to bring people together,” Holt said. “That transferred well not only to bringing the school together (with the Red Tide), but the tennis team together as well.”
Brady felt Holt’s involvement in Red Tide would have transferred over well to the tennis courts, but the season was shut down due to the growing coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m very confident he would have been an inspirational leader,” Brady said .”I felt like we could have been one of the best teams in California, if not the country, and Sean would have been the perfect leader with his enthusiasm and energy.”
With COVID-19 forcing students to stay off campus until further notice, the NCAA has canceled any fall tennis tournaments. Holt said there was a possibility the team could be on campus in January.
“USC is taking every precaution, and they don’t want anyone living in the dorms during the fall,” Holt said. “We’re taking it week by week, and month by month, to see what the athletic director and LA County says what we can and can’t do.”
That’s not to say Holt hasn’t been getting his fair share of practice in. Aside from practicing at the Jack Kramer Club, he has been playing against Brandon on their family’s tennis court.
“Brandon is four years older than me, him and I have been playing against him every morning,” Holt said. “That’s really done wonders for my game, and I could see how he trained and how he worked out.”
Holt will also be following in Brandon and Dylan’s footsteps in another way – he will major in Real Estate Development at USC.
“Seeing what they came out with after four years, they both thought really highly (of that major),” Holt said.
Even though his time at PV ended abruptly, Holt isn’t harboring any ill-feelings.
“It’s tough for everyone, and I don’t want to say how bad it was for me,” Holt said. “I felt like we were one of the best, and we had a chance to do some damage and take the CIF (Southern Section) Open Division. But these are tough times, and everyone is struggling.”