At the start of 2022, Ben Shelton was unknown to the tennis world outside of the college scene.
At the start of 2023, he will have direct entry into the main draw of the Australian Open.
The 20-year-old American’s rapid rise up the rankings was highlighted by a frantic finish to his 2022 campaign, during which he reeled off back-to-back-to-back Challenger titles. In the span of three weeks Shelton went on a 15-match winning streak to lift trophies in Charlottesville, Knoxville, and Champaign. As a result of his efforts, the former NCAA star at the University of Florida won the USTA’s Australian Open wild-card challenge.
However, his ranking–now No. 97–is such that he no longer needs a wild card into the first Grand Slam of 2023. With Shelton earning direct entry, his wild card goes to wild-card challenge runner-up Chris Eubanks–who lost to his good friend in the final in both Charlottesville and Knoxville. Eubanks, a former Georgia Tech standout who played doubles with Shelton at the 2022 U.S. Open, also reached the semis in Champaign.
Shelton, whose father Bryan peaked at No. 55 in the world and now coaches at Florida, has a well-deserved month off before firing up next season not on the campus courts of Gainesville but on the ATP Tour in Australia.
“It’s definitely gone quick,” Shelton said of his rise. “I’m going to take this offseason and slow down a bit, enjoy myself, and also focus on some things I can improve. I feel pretty lucky, I didn’t expect to play 15 matches in three weeks and my body held up. It’s encouraging to me that I can play this many matches and be alright.”