At only 14 years old, Carmel Valley’s Brandon Nakashima is thriving as a top tennis player in the nation. Brandon is able to pursue his dreams on the court without sacrificing his education with a personalized course schedule at Carmel Valley’s High Bluff Academy. The straight-A student, who will tackle AP calculus, chemistry and human geography as a sophomore in the fall, reflects on his volley between tennis and school:
When did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis at the age of 3 when my grandfather, Anh, first introduced me to the game. He would throw nerf tennis balls at me to hit with a small racket in the living room of our home.
What made you pick the sport and stick with it?
I remember seeing Roger Federer play tennis on TV at age 6. He made hitting a tennis ball look fluid and easy but it was actually much harder to do in practice. My mom also signed me up for private lessons and tournaments at age 7. Over time, I realized that I enjoyed the practice lessons and the tournaments. I was lucky in that my parents were very supportive of my efforts through the years. Thus, I’ve been very fortunate and grateful to have a strong support team from my coaches. They are always extremely positive and encouraging in my development. And the more I practiced, the better my tournament results would be. It was a virtuous cycle that makes a lot of sense to me to this day.
How has High Bluff been able to work with your tennis career?
High Bluff Academy has been extremely supportive in creating a flexible, customized schedule for me to meet my training and traveling tournament needs and at the same time providing me a rigorous learning program to thrive academically. I enjoy the small classroom size. The teachers are very knowledgeable, supportive and passionate in what they do.
What is a typical week like for you?
My mom takes care of every detail of my weekly training schedule. I have a very busy weekly schedule where I balance a full academic load with three-hour daily practices for five days a week. I also mix in off-court fitness and yoga conditioning work several days a week.
What have been some of your recent accomplishments on the court?
Recently, I was able to capture two National Boys 16s Singles Titles and the Southern California Sectionals Boys 16s Title. I am currently ranked #1 in Southern California and #4 in the nation for Boys 16s.
What are your goals for the upcoming season and school year?
My goal is generally to keep working to improve my all-court tennis game in practice and in tournaments. I hope to continue to get solid grades in school too. Over the next year, at age 15, I hope to become one of the top ranked players in Southern California and the nation in the Boys 18s division.
- Karen Billing