A new record at the US Open 2023! Over 100 players with connections to college tennis participated in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles at the final Grand Slam tournament of the 2023 season. It was not a surprise but a confirmation of the successful journey from college tennis to professional tennis. A very positive development for college tennis!
In the singles competition, four college players managed to reach at least the round of 16: Ben Shelton (Florida), Borna Gojo (Wake Forest), Rinky Hijikata (North Carolina) and Peyton Stearns (Texas). They all made a significant impact during the opening week of the tournament in New York City. For Gojo and Hijikata, their impressive performances at the US Open helped both of them break into the ATP’s top 100. They are currently at their highest rankings ever.
Shelton also achieved a remarkable feat. He became the first NCAA singles champion to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament since John McEnroe in 1992. Wow! He defeated his compatriots Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round and quarterfinals. At just 20 years old, he’s already ranked 19th in the world. That’s only two spots behind Cam Norrie (TCU), who is currently the highest-ranked college player on the tour. Who knows where he’ll be in five years!
Did you already know that Ben Shelton played at the University of Florida? And that Slamstox player Bente Spee also plays there? Also, Ben was coached by our very own college tennis expert, Tanner Stump. You can read more about Tanner and his background here.
For Stearns, the US Open 2023 was a fantastic showcase of her talent. The former NCAA Singles champion entered the top 100 during her first year as a professional and is now ranked 44th in the WTA Singles Rankings. Stearns became only the sixth former NCAA singles champion to reach the fourth round of the US Open. An incredible achievement!
In the doubles competition, former college players were part of every championship team at this year’s US Open. Rajeev Ram (Illinois) and Joe Salisbury (Memphis) won the men’s doubles, Erin Routliffe (Alabama) claimed victory in the women’s doubles, and Anna Danilina (Florida) secured the mixed doubles title. College Tennis truly dominated all facets of the US Open 2023.
For Ram and Salisbury, this marked the fifth consecutive Grand Slam tournament where at least one team member hailed from a university. They secured their third consecutive US Open men’s doubles title this year. The duo is the first ever to win three consecutive US Open doubles titles in the history of the tournament. Another remarkable record!
As a former NCAA doubles champion, Routliffe has not only reached the pinnacle of collegiate doubles play but has now also ascended to the top of the professional doubles level by winning the US Open women’s doubles title. This Grand Slam championship marks the first in Routliffe’s professional career, propelling her to a career-high ranking of number 20 in the WTA Doubles Rankings.
The final doubles championship came in mixed doubles, where Danilina claimed her first Grand Slam title. Danilina came close at Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2022 but now she has truly secured the title.
Boys and girls
It wasn’t just these players who found success at the US Open, as both current and former college students excelled in the boys’ and girls’ singles as well
Katherine Hui, a future Stanford student, was the champion of the girls’ singles at the US Open 2023. She was recently designated as the number one ranked newcomer in the ITA preseason rankings and will continue her development with the highly talented Cardinal team this season.
In the boys’ competition, Learner Tien (USC) finished as the runner-up for the second time in his junior career. The two-time USTA U18 boys national champion represented the Trojans last spring. However, he has chosen to forgo his collegiate athletics and fully focus on his professional career.
Absolutely fantastic news for college tennis! Does the idea of combining tennis with your studies in the United States sound exciting to you? If so, feel free to contact us. We are here to guide you on this wonderful journey! Also, read about the Dutch players who performed well in college tennis last year.