Before leaving for the other side of the globe to begin his Australian Open preparations, Ben Shelton had never left the United States.
The 20-year-old American is starting to get recognition internationally after an incredible run to the Grand Slam quarterfinals.
A gifted young man who is combining his rising professional career with an online business degree has some of Melbourne’s well-known attractions on his bucket list.
The tourism excursions are still on hold right now.
“After the competition, I’m hoping to see a few interesting things. You can’t travel all this distance and not see the sights, the world’s 89th-ranked golfer told BBC Sport.
The pattern is effective. Shelton was still competing for the University of Florida college squad and not among the top 500 athletes a year ago.
Prior to his four victories at Melbourne Park over the previous week, he had never won a Grand Slam match.
When he competes against Tommy Paul, an American who is also an unseeded but is rated 54 places higher, on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals, he will face his biggest test to date.
Shelton, who was born in Atlanta and whose father Bryan was a former professional on the ATP Tour, admitted that leaving the United States for the first time initially felt unusual.
“After the trip, I needed some time to recover from the jet lag and feel like I had my bearings.
Despite the fact that I currently feel relatively decent physically, the adjustment was undoubtedly challenging.
I traveled the length of the United States, from Florida to California, and obtained a passport in 2019. I was able to use it at last.
The opportunity to see two new nations, Australia and New Zealand, has been exciting so far, and I’m looking forward to traveling to other places while on the tour in the upcoming months.
Ben Shelton and his father Bryan celebrate winning the NCAA championship.
Shelton’s father Bryan, who served as both his coach on the University of Florida men’s team and the person he describes as “keeping his head screwed on,” joined him in celebrating his son’s NCAA championship victory.
Shelton had only previously competed in one major, the US Open, where he lost in the first round after receiving a wildcard after winning the coveted National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in May.
When he competed in Flushing Meadows in August, he had already become professional and made his debut by shocking Casper Ruud, the world’s fifth-ranked golfer from Norway, at the Cincinnati Open.
“I don’t know what I would have answered if someone had told me then that I would make it to the Australian Open quarterfinals. Most likely, “Are you sure?”
“I wouldn’t say I’m utterly stunned or can’t believe it, but I didn’t expect to be where I am.
“The effort I’ve been putting in, both on and off the court, is starting to show results.”
Shelton has been studying more than just how to get better at his sport and what it takes to be a full-time pro.
He is still pursuing a general business degree, enrolling in two online courses (international business and entrepreneurship), and completing homework while competing.
“So far, I haven’t forgotten any deadlines, I’m completing my assignments on time, and my burden is rather light. I’m not working too hard, he declared.
“Whenever I get a break from the court, I normally relax in my hotel room for an hour or two. Having something to focus on and divert my attention from tennis is a fantastic idea.
“To a certain extent, I enjoy doing my schoolwork, and I’ve been keeping up with it by completing my assignments in advance to avoid having to rush because of the time zones.
I’m going to persevere and I’m going to strive very hard to finish my degree, she said.
Shelton always looked destined for a career in sports despite being clearly scholarly. But it didn’t seem like tennis would be involved.
When he was around 10, he started playing alongside his father, who rose to the 55th spot in the world rankings and won two championships in Newport, but he was also a strong athlete in a number of other sports.
I played every sport growing up, including baseball, basketball, and soccer, but I really fell in love with American football, he claimed.
“I played quarterback for six or seven years, but I had to choose between specializing in tennis and American football when I was about 12 years old.
I vowed not to play tennis because it was my father’s sport and I wanted to give it to him.
But I’m glad I made this choice, and I’m content with my current situation.