For some, winning a Grand Slam and becoming world No 1 may be the only goal in life. But for others, ensuring that they create a path for others to follow and helping others is as big a goal.
Countrymen Frances Tiafoe, Christopher Eubanks and Ben Shelton have all been making noise with their racket on the courts in 2023. But the trio of Americans also have passion and the philosophy of paying it forward very much on their mind.
“For me, I want to win Grand Slams but I want to impact people and really be remembered,” Tiafoe said during our new video “All on the table, tennis talk like never before”, where he was joined by countrymen Eubanks and Shelton. “We have an ability – we’re going to be the reason why the game changes. It’s just a fact, and it’s heavy because it’s in our hands bro – it’s wild, man!”
Tiafoe, who hails from the Washington, D.C. area, says that he was stunned to hear fellow D.C. players Hailey Baptiste and Robin Montgomery credited him for where they have reached in their careers.
“They said there is no way I would ever even think about doing half the things I’ve done if there was no Frances Tiafoe – I looked at that video and I was like Holy ****. I replayed that video like ten times,” Tiafoe said. “You start realizing what you’re doing – it’s not going unnoticed, bro. When you really start making moves out here, that stuff doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Eubanks, who won his first ATP singles title this weekend, said he was fortunate to receive help from his countryman Donald Young when he was coming up the ranks and now wants to do the same for others.
“If DY (Donald Young) didn’t let me travel with him and practice with him every day, there’s no chance I would have progressed through juniors to college the way I did,” Eubanks said, adding: “When you’re talking about impact and stuff, it’s like, well, why not use the stuff that they gave me to give to whoever else is coming up?”
Meanwhile, Shelton, the son of former top 50 player Bryan Shelton, dreams of leaving a legacy that goes beyond the sport of tennis.
“I think it’d be cool to have a story not just on the court,” Shelton said. “I want to be a champion in tennis, but look at Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Roger Federer. The stories that they have on the court, off the court, all the things that they have done that’s not just being a tennis player. I think that’s the coolest opportunity that I see in being a professional athlete.”
“The impact that you can have on people. Obviously, you have to get yourself to a level first that people respect you. When you say something, you want to change something or you care about something in the world like, ‘Okay, this dude is serious – he’s not playing. I want to be able to say something on a big stage one day and have it really carry some weight.”