Jesse Holt Jr. of Howard University is a 21-year-old tennis professional who uses the teachings of his fraternity of becoming to help him pursue his goal of becoming a worl-class player.
He was the only black entered in the qualifying matches for the eight open spots in the 64-man field of the Washington Star International championships yesterday.
Reflecting on his situation Holt said, "I feel lonely all the time - at the tournaments and at the club. But I'm going to exhaust every means of making it big - I'm going for the gusto." Holt said he is one of two black male members of Edgemoor Club in Bethesda.
Dressed in powder blue tennis shorts and a warmup jacket with his last name on the back, he sipped a soda after losing, 6-4, 6-4, to Roger Guedes yesterday.
This was Holt's first crack at the Star tournament. Not depressed over his loss, he said, "There is no way that I am going to stop playing tennis. I have the ability - speed, endurance, and reflexes - but I don't yet have the experience.
"I lost today because I tightened up at the end and my serve was inconsistent," he said. "Give me a year and I'll be ready."
Holt admitted he did not always have such a confident attitude. "I used to be a nice guy on the court. Believe it or not I used to feel guilty when I won, especially in mixed doubles. But now I go after everything."
Holt wants to have the coolness of Arthur Ashe and the ground strokes of Jimmy Connors. Both are entrants in the Star tournament.
"I started tennis in the NJTL (National Junior Tennis League), the organization that Ashe founded," he said.
After playing at McKinley Tech High School, he accepted a tennis scholarship at Howard. Holt describes his grades as "up and down."
"It depends on how much I am playing tennis," he said. "When I was pledging Kappa (Kappa Alpha Psi) I got a 3.5 grade average. But that was because the frat stressed achievement and perseverance. It was from the frat and pledging that I learned that if you are going to do something, then you do it the fullest. I practice that on the tennis court."
Another inspiration on the court for Holt is his religion.
"I am a good Christian - I belong to the Church of Christ. Going to church helps me deal with some of the stuff I have to take in this game." Holt said.
"It's impossible to document but few whites tell you everything about your game."
"When I go to tournaments I am treated like a celebrity or something just because I am the only black there. Even today, one of the players looked at me and said, 'It must be a rotten tournament if Holt is here.' It's a type of situation where I have to be better to be looked at as equal."
Holt is ranked No. 13 in the United States in 21-and-under. He is No. 3 in the Middle Atlantic Lawn Tennis Association.
Holt's desire is not to be rich but to help black children learn tennis. He said, "I just have to get a court in my backyard so that I can teach kids. I want a tennis champ bad. If I ever get the money, that is what I am going to do."