Brandon Nakashima: Rising from Setbacks with a Soaring Backhand
Jan 22, 2024
In the fast-paced world of professional tennis, the journey to the top is often riddled with injuries and setbacks. For Brandon Nakashima, the past year has been a testament to resilience and determination. His hard work over the past few months has paid off. Nakashima just won an ATP Challenger 100 in Tenerife, Spain — his first title since 2022.
In an exclusive interview with Florida Tennis, Nakashima opened up about his hard-fought comeback. He's been able to overcome difficult challenges and learned invaluable lessons along the way.
From left to right: Legendary coach Emilio Sanchez, Florida Tennis Publisher Matt Pressman, and ATP Pro Brandon Nakashima. Photo: Florida Tennis.
Once ranked as high as No. 43 on the ATP Tour, Nakashima looked back on the past year, acknowledging the hurdles he faced due to a debilitating knee injury. He admits, "It's been a pretty long, tough year. I started  with an injury and then slowly got back healthy. Coming back from injury is always tough, getting used to the matches again and playing against all the top guys."
Nakashima's journey to recovery involved meticulous planning and medical interventions. "I had a problem with my knee... We decided to take some weeks off, get it back healthy again," he reveals, shedding light on the challenges of managing and overcoming injuries in professional sports.
The 22-year old underwent various treatments, including Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and consultations with specialists. Nakashima emphasizes the significance of choosing the right location to stage a comeback during his recovery in order to ensure he returned fully healthy as soon as possible.
Above: At the Emilio Sanchez Academy, Nakashima is laser-focused on the ball as he pushes his body weight forward on his backhand. Photo: Florida Tennis.
Nakashima chose to stage his comeback at the Emilio Sánchez Academy in Naples. Reflecting on the experience, Nakashima says, “Sanchez does a good job of working with young players, developing their games, making them work hard, and getting them back to the fundamentals."
Having spent significant time training in Florida, Nakashima speaks highly of the state's tennis culture. "The weather and the great players all around make Florida tennis special," he explains.
Above: A look at the Emilio Sanchez Academy in Naples where Nakashima chose to stage his comeback (Photo: Emilio Sanchez Academy)
A standout feature of Nakashima's game is his remarkably clean backhand. When questioned about his technique, he attributes it to a combination of experience, composure, and timing. "Staying calm, keeping your eye on the ball, fully swinging through the ball, and trusting your shot as much as possible" — these are the components Nakashima believes contribute to the excellence of his backhand.
Nakashima also discussed his preference for taking the ball early. "It's very important for me to stay close to the baseline, be as aggressive as possible," he explains. The emphasis on dictating points and maintaining aggression sets Nakashima apart on the court.
For aspiring young players, Nakashima shares some valuable advice: "Dream big, idolize players you look up to, but also focus on developing your game. Results are important, but not as crucial as working hard on the practice court, staying healthy, and trusting yourself."
As Nakashima finds early success in 2024 on the ATP Challenger Tour, his journey serves as an inspiration for all players who face setbacks. With a renewed focus on health, technique, and a backhand that's a force to be reckoned with, Brandon Nakashima is poised for a triumphant comeback in the world of professional tennis.