The former Florida Gator made a big bet on himself by turning pro, and it’s paid off so far to the tune of nearly $300,000 in earnings.
Ben Shelton only knows how to do things one way: Big.
The young American stands across the net from opponents at a towering 6’4. He serves bombs at upwards of 130 mph. He crushes his forehand deep into the court with pace. Like many tennis prospects from the Untied States, Shelton takes an all-or-nothing approach and predicates his game on raw power.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Shelton made a sizable bet on himself last Fall, making the leap to professional tennis at just 19 years old.
Shelton has done nothing but win for the past two years. He won 21 of 29 matches in the lower levels of tennis after his freshman year at the University of Florida concluded. He returned to Florida in 2021, going 37-5 and leading the Gators to an NCAA Singles Championship. At that point, he returned to the pro circuit and never looked back.
“It looks like his game is ready.,” World No. 12 and TCU alum Cam Norrie told Boardroom. “I really like what he did. He went out and he turned pro straight. There’s no second-guessing it.”
The tall left-hander made the final of six different ATP Challenger events, lifting the trophy three times. All the while, he took advantage of some wild-card entries into ATP-level tournaments and turned heads with wins over Lorenzo Sonego and World No. 3 Casper Ruud.
With this confidence, and with enough ranking points to crack the top 100, Shelton was able to forgo his final two years in Gainesville. That’s when the hard work began.
At this point in his career, with just a handful of main-draw wins and three Challenger titles, Shelton has earned just shy of $300,000 for his career. While that might sound like a lot, the expenses involved with being a professional tennis player, from traveling to assembling a team, are quite high.
That’s why this year’s Australian Open is a big deal for Shelton. The 20-year-old had never played a match outside of the United States up until this month, and in Melbourne this year, he’s already increased his career winnings by over 30%. For his first-round win, Shelton earned $106,250. A second-round win would earn him $158,850, and a third-round win would deliver him $227,925.
Grand Slams offer players a golden opportunity to improve their ranking and automatically qualify for main-level tournaments, but they can also be vital to a young player trying to make a living in tennis. For Shelton, this is just the beginning of his journey, and as we saw last season with a young Carlos Alcaraz, you can become a millionaire in just a few months with some major results.
Whether or not he makes a deep run in Melbourne, Shelton’s ranking is already in a good enough spot to earn him the opportunity to make some money in his first year as a professional. It appears he’s already winning the bet he made on himself.
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