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Why Ben Shelton is called ‘The Mountain’ and the nicknames he turned down

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UTS Team
LA 2023

Enter the locker room of any sports team, and the majority of athletes will go by nicknames.

It’s simply the nature of sport. Teammates working together in close proximity for an extended period of time, boil down their peers’ key attributes and generate such nicknames instead.

That’s why with UTS striving to offer an experience of unparalleled access and proximity to players, each star has their own moniker that they go by.

For Nick Kyrgios, it’s ‘King Kyrgios’; Taylor Fritz is ‘The Hot Shot’; while Frances Tiafoe goes by ‘Big Foe.’

And for Ben Shelton, the young American is known as ‘The Mountain.’

But how did Shelton come to be known as The Mountain, and what nicknames did he refuse to be called by along the way?

How Ben Shelton came to be called ‘The Mountain’

Everything about Ben Shelton is big.

His serve.

His power game.

His height.

The man is a giant—and he’s overcome some big mountains already in his career. Rewind the clock a little over a year, and Ben Shelton wasn’t even in the world’s top 500. At the start of 2023, Shelton hadn’t ever left the United States.

Throw in three consecutive Challenger Tour titles, however, plus a quarterfinal run at the 2023 Australian Open, and the 20-year-old has rocketed up the ATP rankings to within reach of the top 30.

It’s no wonder that Shelton has earned the nickname ‘The Mountain’ at the upcoming UTS event in Los Angeles.

But what were some of the other names that the American could have been labelled with?

The Student

Given Shelton’s age and background, it’s no surprise that one of the names considered for the 20-year-old ahead of UTS Los Angeles was ‘The Student.’

Shelton has weighed in with his thoughts on the nickname, saying, “I think that’s an interesting nickname because obviously I went to college. I’m still a student actually, still doing schoolwork every week.”

In fact, it was college tennis where Shelton made his mark, racing out to a 65-10 record across the span of two years, and earning entry into his first Challenger Tour level tournaments.

“But I think I like my nickname a lot better than that one,” concluded Shelton, who’s eager to prove that he’s more than a college student now.

The Rookie

While it may be a somewhat generic term, it would be apt for Shelton to go by the nickname ‘The Rookie,’ considering he’s fresh on the scene.

“I like this nickname a lot,” said Shelton, when this suggestion was raised. “It goes well with where I am right now in my tennis career, and I think it’s a pretty interesting, but general nickname.”

“But,” the 20-year-old countered, “I don’t think it has as much personal touch as the nickname I chose.”

The Graduate

One moniker that was suggested, but fell flat on its face when recommended to Shelton, was ‘The Graduate.’

“I don’t like this one! I think it’s the worst of the three for me!” said Shelton in response to the idea.

“I haven’t graduated from school yet, so it couldn’t be that one,” he explained. “Obviously I’m really young out here in my career on Tour, so I don’t think that ‘The Graduate’ is one that really shows where I’m at.”

However, Shelton did have some recommendations for some of his rivals at UTS Los Angeles next month. The American suggested that perhaps Nick Kyrgios should go by ‘The Showman,’ while Gael Monfils could be nicknamed ‘The Wizard,’ courtesy of his unique feats on the court.Those looking to catch some of these spectacular displays of tennis mastery can catch UTS Los Angeles live this 21 to 23 July at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

  • July 21st : Ben “The Mountain” Shelton Vs Frances “Big Foe” Tiafoe
  • July 21st : Ben “The Mountain” Shelton Vs Alexander “Bublik Ennemy” Bublik
  • July 22nd : Ben “The Mountain” Shelton Vs Gaël “La Monf” Monfils

Players in this article

The Mountain

Ben Shelton