First-Time Winner Spotlight: Ben Shelton

  • Posted: Oct 22, 2023

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Ben Shelton

American shares his biggest passions outside of tennis

Ben Shelton’s standout season on the ATP Tour went up a gear on Sunday when he clinched his first tour-level title at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships.

After becoming the sixth first-time winner of the season, the 21-year-old Shelton caught up with to discuss his triumph at the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It means a lot. It is not something I thought I would accomplish when I started playing tennis. To be able to be in a position to compete for a title and hold my nerve and win one is really special for me and my team and something I will remember for the rest of my life.

How did you handle the occasion today, playing in your first final?
It was interesting. I expected to be a lot more nervous going into the match, but I felt pretty calm and at peace and clear minded when on court. I am not sure what came over me and gave me the calmness and confidence that I had out there, but it felt like another day at the office.

How much confidence and self-belief did your semi-final run at the US Open last month give you?
I think the semi-final run at the US Open gave me a huge amount of confidence that I could compete against the best in our sport and that I could continue to make deep runs in tournaments, doing it in three out of five sets. I showed myself that I was fit and in shape to go the distance, so it is something that has helped me a lot in the tournaments I have played after the US Open and hopefully I can carry on that momentum in the next year.

Who are the people in your life who helped you to get this far in your career?
My parents and my sister are the three who have helped me the most. Sacrificed the most. Invested the most into my career and me as a person. All my other coaches that helped me in college and the University Of Florida have been a huge part of my development and helped me grow as a player and a person. Shoutout to all of them as well.

You started the season at No. 96 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Now up to No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. What are your overall reflections on the season so far and have you surpassed your expectations?
I have surpassed my expectations for the year. It has been a dream year for me and being able to do well at tournaments and now win a tournament and also take loses and learn things about myself. Play on different surfaces, being introduced to new and different cultures. It has all been a blessing and I have really enjoyed my first full year on Tour.

American tennis is in a strong position at the moment, with four players in Top 15 of the Live Rankings. What is that like to be a part of?

It is cool to be part of American tennis at this time. We have Taylor [Fritz], Tommy [Paul] and Frances [Tiafoe] leading the way and behind we have so many great guys playing great tennis right now. Like Sebi Korda, who beat me last week. Chris Eubanks, who made the quarters at Wimbledon. Mackenzie McDonald and Marcos Giron. I know I am missing a few but there are so many names in the Top 100 right now who are making waves.

What’s your biggest interest outside of tennis?
I have a few. I would say watching other sports and getting to know other athletes from other sports. I really like cars, they are a passion of mine. I am always scrolling and looking at on social media. I would say I like to watch movies and read. Anything that occupies my free time when I am on the road.

How will you celebrate?
I am going to eat a cheese burger and then pack and get ready for my flight.

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