Mens Tennis

Armed & Dangerous: Why Shelton’s Serve Is Already Among World’s Best

Ben Shelton rocks back and forth before he serves like a predator waiting for the perfect moment to attack. His right foot sits just a toothpick’s width from the baseline. What his opponent is doing to prepare 80 feet away often does not matter.

With his racquet-bearing left hand and ball-holding right hand clasped together, the Shelton machine moves into motion. Three things happen at once — the American calmly tosses the ball into the air, develops his left arm into a ready position with his elbow up and, perhaps most vitally, manouevres his left foot next to his right to build momentum, with both feet pivoting parallel to the baseline.

As the ball floats in the air, Shelton sits into a deep crouch and opens his shoulders, coiling in preparation for an eruption. Time stands still. Right as the ball hits its peak, Shelton soars upwards.

“It’s explosive,” said Scott Perelman, a longtime assistant coach at the University of Florida, where Shelton competed for two years. “It’s like a rocket shooting up off the ground.”

With both feet in the air, Shelton crushes the ball with devastating effect. Sometimes, he simply pulverises it. On many occasions, he imparts a variety of spin to manipulate the ball however he desires, to whichever target in the box he chooses. On Sunday against Tommy Paul in his fourth-round match, which he won in four sets, the 20-year-old hit two 149 mph serves in one game. The US Open record is 152 mph, struck in 2004 by former World No. 1 Andy Roddick, widely considered one of the best servers in history.

“I think [it was] straight adrenaline. Any other atmosphere, I don’t think I could get it done. I think my arm might fall off,” Shelton said in his on-court interview. “But it’s feeling pretty good right now.”

“I was besides myself. I’ve never seen that before. In my life. I’m going to be 68 next year,” Perelman said. “So I’ve been watching this game a long, long time. I’ve seen some of the best servers in the world. To see that back to back in the Ad court like that, I was just speechless.”

Ben Shelton
Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
In isolation, those 149 mph serves only earned Shelton two points in the match. Ask Ben’s father, Bryan Shelton, or Perelman, and they will quickly explain they would rather him not chase speed. At 6’4”, the American does not have the height typically associated with big servers like John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Reilly Opelka, but pound-for-pound, his serve is just as effective, with the ability to hit all…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Tennis – ATP World Tour…