Player to watch: Brandon Nakashima

by Jonas Eriksson

Brandon Nakashima has made some steady strides in his game. Now ranked within the top 100, he wants to show that he can beat “the big guys”.

Brandon Nakashima is 19 years old, has an 8-4 win-loss record in 2021 so far, and reached the final in the Atlanta ATP 250, where he lost to John Isner in a hard-fought match. He has a big double-handed backhand, that is even more of a weapon than his forehand. He was a world junior number 3 and began playing tennis as a 3-year-old. His little brother, Bryce, plays on the ITF tour currently.

Brandon Nakashima’s racquet

Nakashima allegedly uses the new Babolat Pure Strike 98 with a gut/RPM Blast hybrid. Like always with pro player racquets, it’s hard to know for sure unless the player/a stringer tells you or you have in-depth pictures. There is actually a new Japanese version paint job version of the Pure Strike 98 on Tennis Warehouse at the moment (Nakashima’s father is of Japanese ancestry, while the mother grew up in Vietnam.

Nakashima has a pretty versatile game centered around excellent court speed and footwork. He can hurt players off of both wings, but his biggest shot is the double-handed backhand. His serve is not huge, but he can vary it and his volley is above average for the new crop of players coming up (Korda has the best volley of the so-called next-gen in my opinion.

It seems like American tennis is experiencing quite a resurgence with players like Nakashima, Korda and Brooksby. It will be fun to see what they can do on the bigger stages of the game. Korda has already proven himself in Grand Slams, but I think we will see big results in the near future also from Nakashima and Brooksby.

What is your favorite up-and-coming player at the moment?

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Doug August 8, 2021 - 20:11

Hej, I live in San Diego, California, USA, near where Brandon and Taylor Fritz grew up. One of my tennis partners is Brandon’s neighbor, and a close friend of mine is a relative of Taylor’s (aka seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, lol). My tennis crew of about 30 players are all excited for them. It is a super supportive community. San Diego is a hot spot for competitive tennis all year round, and the high level of competition makes the younger players better.

In the not to distant past, a major WTA stop was in San Diego at La Costa. But that came to an end many years ago. Only about five years ago San Diego got World Team Tennis tournament which creates excitement locally. Indian Wells ATP 1000 is a two hour drive away and that is an epic venue to showcase tennis at its best.

American tennis has a lot of exciting new players we hope can get into the top ten.

Of those ranked in the top 150 are:

The youngest ones are Brandon Nakashima (19), Sebastian Korda (21), and Jenson Brooksby (20).

On the tour a bit longer are Taylor Fritz (23), Frances Tiafoe (23), Riley Opelka (23), Tommy Paul (24) and McKenzie McDonald (26).

Not going away but not likely top ten contenders are the older ones like Sam Query (33), John Isner (36), Marcus Giron (28), Dennis Kudla (28), Tennys Sandgren (30), and Steve Johnson (31).

ATP needs more hard court tournaments in the US if it expects to generate more interest in the US. There is a very lopsided advantage to European clay court tournaments. As an example, why does a clay court tournament exist nearly every week during grass and hard court season? Then virtually the entire indoor season is back in Europe. We used to have multiple tournaments in California but now we have just one. I’m not opposed to clay but it is too much and no balance. Worse, it gives too many players a higher ranking than they deserve compared to those who play on all surfaces.

TN August 9, 2021 - 08:21

Hey Doug, nice comment and some good points made! / J


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