Friday, May 29, 2020

ITA Summer Circuit Set to Start Next Month; Nakashima and Fila Give Shoes to Thank San Diego Health Workers; ITA National Junior College Awards

Almost everything I've had to report regarding tennis tournaments has been cancellations, so it was great to find a series of summer events that are still on schedule, with the ITA Summer Circuit planning to debut on June 20 at the El Dorado Tennis Center in Long Beach California. As you would expect, the Summer Circuit has been pared down considerably, with many college campuses just not prepared to hold tournaments in the next two months. But with so many playing opportunities already lost, the ITA has been able to work with tournament directors to find alternative sites, and more could be added for the final three weeks of the Circuit in July and August. For more on what the Circuit will look like this year, see this article I wrote for Tennis Recruiting Network.

Health care workers display shoes donated by Nakashima and Fila
Eighteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima of San Diego has seen his rapid rise up the ATP rankings stalled by the pandemic shutdown, but he is participating in the Grand Slam Tennis Tours Matchplay 120 competition that was recently organized, beating Ernesto Escobedo 7-6(2), 6-4 last night in Los Angeles. While preparing to return to the courts, Nakashima found time to show his appreciation those on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic in the San Diego area, teaming with his new sponsor Fila to distribute free shoes to them.

I was sent this update on Brandon and his donation last night; the video report is from a local television station:

18-year-old Brandon Nakashima was on an amazing run.  In less than 7 months beginning in September 2019 his ATP ranking moved from 900 to 218.  This ranking rise included Brandon first ATP 250 Tour event where he capitalize on a WC from TD Mark Baron, reaching the quarter finals.  His last event was in March at the Oracle Series Challenger at Indian Wells Tennis Center where he reached the semi-finals before losing to Jack Sock, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.   BNP tournament director Tommy Haas was impressed and gave Brandon a wild card into the ATP BNP 1000 starting the next week.  But just two days later the BNP was cancelled and eventually all professional tennis.  The Coronavirus had put a temporary end to Brandon’s amazing run.   

So, what would a typical 18-year-old professional tennis player do with extra time on his hands?  Spend time playing video games and checking his social media?  Not Brandon!  Both of Brandon’s parents are healthcare professionals working in the hospital and clinic.  His Dad works as an ICU Clinical Pharmacist at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla and his Mom is a Pharmacy Supervisor at Sharp Rees Stealy in Sorrento Mesa. So, Brandon was keenly aware of the sacrifices being made by healthcare professionals to fight this deadly virus. 

Just getting started on the tour Brandon did not have any money to donate but he did have Fila, his shoe and clothing sponsor.  So, Brandon came up with the Fila, “Front Line” shoe donation initiative.  Brandon saw it as an opportunity to help boost the morale of these healthcare professionals. Nothing better than a great pair of running shoes for urgent care professionals who are on their feet for 10 to 14 hours a day!!  It was a perfect way to express his appreciation and gratitude to these selfless front line workers during this Covid -19 crisis. 

Brandon ended up giving over 40 pairs of Fila shoes to the Urgent Care physicians and nurses at the Sharp Rees-Stealy Clinic in Sorrento Mesa on May 13.  

When asked why he wants to give back and what are his goals Brandon said, “Being surrounded by my parents who both are healthcare providers and contributors in serving patients, it’s just become natural for me to have a deep contribution mindset and heart of helping others and giving back to society. It’s simply so rewarding and fulfilling to help others feel good. Ultimately, I’d like to utilize my tennis skills to be an athlete philanthropist to have a positive impact to the underprivileged student athletes through education and sport initiatives.” 

Look for Brandon when the ATP tour reopens. 

The final ITA virtual National Awards Ceremony was streamed on YouTube today, with the Junior College winners listed below.

Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship: James McWilliams, Jones College
ITA Player to Watch: Gabriel Ortiz, Seward County Community College
ITA Rookie of the Year: Gabriel Ortiz, Seward County Community College
ITA Most Improved Sophomore: Juan David Ramirez, Laredo Community College
ITA Sophomore Player of the Year: Sander Jans, Seward County Community College

JUCO Women:
Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship: Danielle Viljoen, Jones College
ITA Player to Watch: Yu Yue, Tyler Junior College
ITA Rookie of the Year: Emelie Schwarte, Tyler Junior College
ITA Most Improved Sophomore: Ali Grace Walker, East Central Community College
ITA Senior Player of the Year: Tatiana Simova, ASA College (Miami)


college tennis enthusiast said...

There are very strong rumors that 8 guys are transferring from the Cal Mens tennis team. Anyone have any insight into this?