Ben Shelton, the 20-year-old tennis sensation, is making waves at this year's US Open with his electrifying style of play. From his thunderous serves to his aggressive on-court demeanor, Shelton embodies everything that makes tennis an exhilarating sport to watch.
Beyond his exceptional skills, his magnetic smile and crowd engagement have turned him into a true showstopper on the court. A distinctive part of the Shelton package at this year's US Open has been his signature celebration.
After each victorious match, the former University of Florida star playfully pretends to pick up an old-style phone, listens for a moment, and then energetically slams it back onto the receiver. This celebration, as Shelton explains, is a nod to his childhood in Atlanta, where he had a similar phone.
For him, it symbolizes being "dialed in" and ready to compete at the highest level. This unique celebration was inspired by Grant Holloway, a former Gator track star and world champion in events like the 110-meter hurdles and the 60-meter hurdles.
Holloway, a close friend of Shelton, shared that picking up the phone signifies that Shelton can hear the world talking, and he's always ready to answer the call and deliver on the court. It's a way of staying focused and dialed in, no matter what challenges come his way.
Friendship Fuels Shelton's Rise
Holloway's friendship with Shelton was cultivated through his brother, MJ Holloway, another track star at Florida. They motivated each other to chase greatness and enjoyed meals and conversations together.
Holloway is now thrilled to see his friend take the US Open by storm, with Shelton set to face the legendary Novak Djokovic in a bid for a place in the final. Holloway emphasizes the importance of Shelton earning respect on the court and not simply giving it away, especially when competing against idols.
He believes that Shelton's fierce competitiveness and dedication will propel him to the top of the tennis world. Shelton's competitive spirit is nothing new. Even before tennis became his primary focus, he displayed a love for competition.
Growing up, he participated in various sports, leaving an indelible mark on tennis camps at Georgia Tech, where he would compete with older players and infuse his team with enthusiasm. Bryan Shelton, Ben's father and coach, has witnessed his son's journey from a young age.
Ben played multiple sports, including football and baseball, but it was his enthusiasm, competitive spirit, and athleticism that stood out. His transformation into a world-class tennis player was evident as he embraced his physical growth.
One of Shelton's standout attributes is his monstrous serve, but equally important is his ability to handle pressure with a sense of joy. For him, tennis is not just work; it's a source of pure enjoyment. His approach to the game, combined with his composure under pressure, sets him apart.
As Shelton prepares to face Djokovic, he carries his unique celebratory tradition onto the court. Win or lose, there's no doubt that Shelton will leave everything out there, showcasing his generational talent and continuing to astonish the world with his exceptional skills and relentless competitiveness.