Brandon Nakashima is one of the hottest players on the Challenger tour right now — and he’s not even a full-time pro.
On Friday afternoon, the University of Virginia sophomore continued his torrid play with a 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-3 victory over 110th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan.
The win was the San Diego native’s third over a top-250 player this week and moved him into the semifinals of the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
In the USTA pro-circuit match that lasted nearly 2½ hours, Nakashima connected on 66 percent of his first serves, which included seven aces.
“It was a super tough match,” Nakashima said. “Right from the beginning, I knew I was going to have to work for every point and there would be a lot of long rallies.
“I just tried to stay focused on my end and play aggressive and smart points.”
Nakashima’s win came on the heels of victories over the 233rd-ranked Ernesto Escobedo and the 159th-ranked Peter Polansky.
Earlier this month, the 484th-ranked Nakashima beat Daniel at a Challenger in California in straight sets.
“I definitely knew his game style and how he plays and was able to prepare for it a little bit,” Nakashima said.
Nakashima said he hasn’t been surprised by his success against the pros.
“I’ve been playing pretty well in these Challengers over the last few months,” he said. “Hopefully I can continue playing well.”
On Saturday, Nakashima will be bidding to become the first UVa player to make the CMP Challenger final since Michael Shabaz did so in 2010 when he takes on Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
Pospisil was a 6-1, 6-2 winner over countryman Filip Peliwo on Friday.
“All the guys playing at the end of tournaments are playing well and with a lot of confidence,” said Nakashima, prior to learning who his opponent would be. “It will be a tough match for sure.”
The other semifinal will pit another Canadian, top-seeded Brayden Schnur, against Kazakhstan’s Dmitry Popko.
The 99th-ranked Schnur was a 6-2, 7-6(4) winner over Blaz Rola, while Popko beat American Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-4.
All the action, which is free and open to the public, gets underway at 11 a.m.
For a full schedule of matches (including doubles), results and other news from the tournament, visit the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger Facebook page or follow the tournament on Twitter (@CMPChallenger).