Mens Tennis

Showman Shelton Finds His Biggest Stage Yet

One word to describe Ben Shelton’s game is electric. From his thunderbolt serve to his aggressive game style, the 20-year-old brings everything that a fan would want to watch in a tennis match. His magnetic smile and willingness to involve the crowd have made him a showstopper.

Part of the Shelton box-office package at this US Open has been a signature celebration. After winning his matches, the former University of Florida star has pretended to pick up the phone and listened for a moment before slamming it back on the receiver.

“Our home phone when I was growing up in Atlanta was one like that. If I wanted to talk to my friends or call their home phone, see if they wanted to go outside and throw a football, that was what I did,” Shelton said. “But for me it’s kind of like I’m saying I’m dialled in.”

Shelton explained that the celebration was inspired by another former Gator, Grant Holloway, a track star who has won several world championships in events including the 110-metre hurdles and the 60-metre hurdles.

“For me, when I pick up the phone, it’s kind of just letting everybody know I can hear you talk,” Holloway told “Just know I’m always going to answer and I’m always going to deliver. As Ben said, you stay dialled in.

“Obviously, on that day, anything can happen. So it’s just one of the things where we just let everybody know, you can say whatever you want about me. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to go out there and compete and I’m going to stay dialled in no matter what.”

Ben Shelton
Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Holloway became friends with Shelton through his brother, another Florida track star, MJ Holloway. They would grab food, chat and inspire one another to chase greatness. It has been “amazing” for Holloway, who won the 110-metre world championship two weeks ago, to watch his friend take the US Open by storm. Now the 2022 NCAA singles winner will face 23-time major titlist Novak Djokovic for a place in the final.

“When you have a close friend ripping up the scenes on the tennis court and playing some of the idols that we used to joke around with [each other about], I think it’s pretty remarkable because he’s living out his dream,” Holloway said. “I think most people get caught in the hype, obviously, when they’re young, when they start to play some of the idols. They start to respect them too much.

“I was one of those people before, so it’s my goal to really challenge him and tell him, ‘Respect is earned and not given.’ So…

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