ISMANING, October 17, 2020
The German municipality of Ismaning, located near Munich, welcomes players and coaches for the fourth edition of the Wolffkran Open, kicking off this weekend. Two of them are 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima from the United States and his famous Australian coach Pat Cash.
Cash came to the tennis world’s attention in the early 1980s. In 1981 he was ranked World No. 1 as a junior and in 1982 he won the junior titles at both Wimbledon and the US Open. Later that year, he turned professional and captured his first senior trophy in his home town of Melbourne. Cash established a reputation on the circuit as a hard-fighting serve-and-volleyer and for wearing his trademark black and white checked head band and cross earring. His crowning moment was winning the Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 1987, losing just one set en-route to defeating Ivan Lendl in the championship match.
Since his retirement from the tour 10 years later, Cash has worked as a TV pundit and commentator, primarily for the BBC, and runs the Pat Cash Tennis Academy. The 55-year-old continues to be one of the competitors on the ATP Champions Tour. Cash won the Hall of Fame event in Newport Rhode Island in 2008 and 2009. He has coached top players including Greg Rusedski and Mark Philippoussis.
His current protégé is ranked World No. 202 and one of the most promising talents in men’s tennis in the United States. Nakashima has clinched two titles on the ITF World Tennis Tour and has started to establish himself on the ATP Challenger Tour. He was granted a wild card into the main draw of this year’s US Open, where he had beaten Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzo in the first round before he fell to eventual runner-up Alexander Zverev in four sets.
Dietmar Kaspar met the pair ahead of the start of the tournament in Ismaning, an ATP Challenger 80 event, which is played on a rare surface.
Tennis TourTalk: Welcome to Germany! What memories of the country do you have, Pat?
Pat Cash: My first memory is when I was a junior. I was 14, I came to Berlin and now I am a little older and I am back again. I have been to many places, playing tournaments and exhibition matches but it’s my first time here in Ismaning.
Brandon, is it your first time in Germany? And what do you associate with the country?
Brandon Nakashima: Yes, it is my first time. I have always seen the professional tournaments on TV and always wanted to come here at some point of my career. It’s nice to finally see what it is like here.
You were a very successful junior, reaching a career high World No. 3 in the Juniors Ranking. A couple of weeks ago, you faced Alexander Zverev at the US Open. Could you describe your way from junior’s to senior’s level.
Nakashima: It was great to have a good junior career. Ever since I was young, I wanted to play tennis as a professional and it helped me to get to this stage to keep developing my game. Playing the bigger events now is a great experience for me.
Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an
You also played college tennis, but not that long. What was the reason for that?
Nakashima: I played one season at the University of Virginia. I actually had a really good time there. I liked everything about the school, the college matches and the people there, but I decided to turn professional. I thought it was best for my game at the time and I think it was the right decision. But overall, it was a great experience and definitely helped me for my tennis and in life.
Why did you chose to work with Pat and when was the first time you recognized him as a tennis player?
Nakashima: When I was growing up, I never saw him playing. Obviously, I heard of his name and what great player he was, but never saw any of his matches. At this time last year, I turned professional and I was looking for a high-level coach that has a lot experience. We had some mutual friends, who connected us together and so we started talking at the beginning of this year. We tried out a few weeks and we decided to do a certain amount of weeks during the year and it has been really good so far.
Pat, concerning Brandon’s game, what are the things you want to work on?
Cash: As he said, our mutual friend told me that he knows a good junior and I wasn’t really interested. Then he sent me some videos and I watched this kid, which was also mentally very solid under pressure. I realized some areas that we could improve on and that’s what we have done for the last six or seven months. We always have to improve everything. Brandon is a very solid player. He hasn’t got any clear weaknesses and we’re developing more strengths to become stronger and better. We had the opportunity to work on things during the lockdown, which was great for us. I was lucky that I have an American passport, as my mother is American and so I was able to go to California, where we spent three months of good, hard work. We worked on technical stuff and his physical performance.
He is also a very good clay-court player and we spent four or five weeks on clay. He actually has very little experience playing on this surface and we went to Europe playing some tournaments and he has improved a lot. The US Open was also great experience for him. Brandon often makes his opponents play badly, as he takes the ball very early and hits it very clean. It worries a lot of players. In his match against Zverev, he realized that he is not that far away from the very good players but there is still lots of room to improve. It’s been an incredible learning experience for both of us. Since we are here, he has had Sauerkraut and dumplings. I am teaching him all the good German words like “Backpfeifengesicht”, a face that was slapped (laughs). We have some fun. Of course, this tournament here is the exact opposite of being on clay but as a professional player you have to learn and adapt.
In the 1980s a lot of indoor events took place on carpet. Nowadays, it has become a very rare surface. Here in Ismaning, we also have a carpet. Can you compare this carpet here to the surfaces you played on during your active career?
Cash: This is probably faster than what I played on. We didn’t play too many tournaments on this type of carpet. There was one in Frankfurt for the ATP Finals but it wasn’t that fast. In my days there were some amazing players like Lendl, Becker or McEnroe, who were almost unbeatable on this type of court. It was a different style of playing. We went serve and volleying and we served a lot of aces and big winners.
Brandon, what is your first impression of the surface here in Ismaning?
Nakashima: Before I came here, I haven’t seen a carpet court in my life. My coaches and other players told me that my game would suit well to this surface. It’s great to have a couple of days now getting used to the conditions. I am looking forward to playing matches here.
Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an
WOLFFKRAN OPEN 2020 Die Durchführung der vierten Ausgabe des Challenger Turniers WOLFFKRAN OPEN stand lange Zelt auf der Kippe. Nun freuen wir uns umso sehr, dass vom 17. bis 25. Oktober wieder Weltklasse Tennis auf der Anlage des TC Ismaning Einzug erhält. Das Team hat ein umfangreiches Hygienekonzept für die ATP ausgearbeitet, um für alle Spieler und Coaches und das Organisationsteam der WKO ein Höchstmaß an Sicherheit zu gewährleisten. Die gute Nachricht: Das Turnier findet Stand heute statt! Einen kleinen Wermutstropfen gibt es jedoch: Besucher sind auf der Anlage als Zuschauer leider nicht zugelassen 😏 Alles News zum Turnier findet Ihr auf unserer neu gestalteten Homepage: www.wolffkran-open.de Aufgrund der begrenzten Anzahl an Turnieren in diesem Jahr hoffen wir auf ein attraktives Teilnehmerfeld ✌🏼 Welchen Spieler würdet Ihr am liebsten bei den WOLFFKRAN OPEN 2020 sehen? @wolffkranofficial @wolffkran_open @tcismaning @deutscher_tennis_bund @headtennis_official
Pat, when you finished you career, you said that you will take your guitar, drink beer with your mates to enjoy an easy life. However, it seems that everything in your life is still about tennis. What was the reason to change your mind?
Cash: Well, I did do that for a while but I must say that it got a bit boring. I did have fun and spent time with my children. But I like tennis, I love coaching. It gave me another opportunity to come back and to continue to learn about tennis. Although I don’t move that well and everything hurts, I also still love to go out on court and play. It’s fun to hit with a top player like Brandon. And then I can enjoy my social tennis with my friends at Wimbledon or at the Queen’s Club playing on grass. I can do both and that’s very fortunate.
You are involved in many things related to tennis. How will your priorities look like?
Cash: We have learnt this year that things are changing. Coaching will be a part of my life. I like commentating. These things will remain part of my life for sure. Where this sends me? I don’t know. I like to see what the world gives me. A lot of people try to plan things but I don’t like to do that. I like to see where things take me and try to enjoy it. I also do a lot of work with charities. That’s something I am very passionate about. I will defininitely continue with that. I am also doing a sports psychology course at the moment, almost finished it. I am trying to adapt more and more of that into my life.
Pat, you live in London, and Brandon, you’re based in San Diego. What’s the plan for practicing together?
Cash: It’s been easy. I am Australian. Travelling is part of my blood. This happens when you’re an Australian junior players you have to travel, going away for months. This is something I am used to do. It’s not a problem. It’s just annoying wearing these stupid things (pointing at his face mask). I have been doing this several times (during the pandemic) and it’s great. Nobody is at the airport, nobody is on the plane. It’s a good time for traveling and I am not scared at all.
Brandon, what are your goals for the next year?
Nakashima: I always try to keep improving and try to gain more experience by coming to these tournaments, going up the ranking as much as possible and play the Australian Open. I still want to work on my physical performance and the mental aspects.
Last question for Pat. When people talk about your person, they also often talk about your famous head band. Are you sick of hearing that?
Cash: No, that’s part of me. I feel naked when I am not wearing it on the court. It doesn’t feel right. I always put my head band on, usually because of sweating. Most people don’t recognize me without it. That’s funny. The head band is more famous than me.