Is Ben Shelton the next great tennis star from the United States?
He sure looked the part in his 2023 U.S. Open quarterfinal win over fellow American Francis Tiafoe on Tuesday night in Queens. Shelton won in four sets, and now he gets to face the toughest test in the semis: He’ll be playing Novak Djokovic, and the winner moves on to the final.
Before we get to that, we’ve got to get to know Shelton as he bursts on to the scene. The 20-year-old looks like the real deal, so here are some facts about him to get to know the young star:
His father is Bryan Shelton, the men’s tennis coach at Florida and who played professionally in the 1990s. His mom, Lisa, played juniors.
He made it to the fourth round of the 2023 Australian Open, and in 2022, he made it to the third round of the Cincinnati Masters.
Ben Shelton entered elite tennis comparatively late, having not competed or even played regularly until age 11 when he decided to stop his nascent career at quarterback and focus on the family sport.
“This was the same kid who said that ‘tennis will not be my sport’ when he was younger,” Bryan Shelton said. “So he definitely came to it on his own. There was no pressure from mom or dad or sister.” …
“I saw that my dad was a college coach and knew a lot about the game,” he said. “My chances of going far in the sport and having that resource was definitely going to be helpful. The other thing was I grew kind of late. So going into the end of middle school, there was a lot of huge kids in football, and I hadn’t really hit my growth spurt yet. I was maybe a little tired of getting bashed up all the time.”
He played for Shelton at Florida and won the Gators a national title in 2021 and his own singles championship in 2022.