Ben Shelton (USA) reacts against Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) (not pictured) on day eight of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. [Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]

Former UF standout Shelton Becomes Top-Ranked American Player

Former Florida men’s tennis standout Ben Shelton is the highest ranked American player after winning an ATP title in Houston.

Shelton’s Background

Shelton lives in Gainesville and is a Buchholz High graduate. His father, Bryan, was a professional tennis player and served as the UF men’s tennis coach from 2012-2023. Ben Shelton played tennis under his father for two years (2021 and 2022). As a freshman, Shelton won the title-clinching match for Florida in the 2021 NCAA Championships to give the Gators their first national trophy. Then in 2022, he won the singles national championship to finish the season as the top-ranked collegiate player.

Professional Career

In the 2022 Western & Southern Open, Shelton defeated world No. 5 Casper Ruud as a wild card. Shortly after, Shelton decided to forego his remaining UF eligibility and turned pro. Since making his ATP debut, Shelton has been steadily rising up in the rankings. He made his grand slam debut in 2022 after receiving a wild card entry to the US Open. While he lost in the first round, he recorded the second-fastest serve of the tournament with a 149 miles per hour hit. Shelton is known for his swift first serve. In 2023, he made his debut in the Australian Open and reached the fourth round. With steadily-improving performances, Shelton broke into the top 50 at 44. He ended the year ranked at 15. Last week, Shelton defeated fellow American and defending champion Frances Tiafoe 7-5 4-6 6-3 to win the ATP 250 event in Houston. Shelton ran through the tournament, only dropping four sets on his way to the title. At only 21, he became the youngest winner since Andy Roddick in 2002. It was his second ATP title, after winning the 2023 Japan Open Tennis Championships in October.

Highest-Ranked American Player

As a result from winning in Houston, Shelton rose to a career-high ranking of 14, and overtook Taylor Fritz as the No. 1-ranked American player. Shelton has emerged as a deadly threat on clay, and looks to climb even higher as the clay season continues. Andy Roddick was the last American to be ranked world No. 1 in 2003. If Shelton continues to improve at his current pace, he has a chance to match Roddick.


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