Rising Stars Shelton, Eubanks To Make Houston Main Draw Debuts

published: Dec, 12, 2023

by: TC Staff

HOUSTON (Dec. 12, 2023) – Two rising American stars on the global tennis stage will make their main draw Houston debuts at the 2024 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, organizers announced today. World No. 17 Ben Shelton and No. 34 Christopher Eubanks, who are both nominated for the 2023 ATP Tour Most Improved Player Award, will join fellow American and defending champion Frances Tiafoe in the field for the March 30-April 7 tournament at River Oaks Country Club.

“Ben and Chris won over a lot of fans during their breakout seasons in 2023, and we are thrilled that both will be playing at River Oaks in 2024,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “They are two very exciting players to watch as well as great people off the court. With them joining Frances in the field, we wish the tournament was going to be getting underway a little sooner than it will.”

Shelton, 21, has quickly cemented himself as one of the up-and-coming Americans on tour since winning the 2022 NCAA title at Florida. Three months later he beat world No. 5 and former US Clay finalist Casper Ruud in Cincinnati. Then, on his first-ever trip out of the country, he stunned the tennis world by reaching the 2023 Australian Open quarterfinals. He again performed well on the big stage with a thrilling run to this year’s US Open semifinals with a win over Tiafoe. In October, he beat world No. 4 Jannik Sinner in Shanghai, and the following week won his first ATP title in Tokyo. After starting the year ranked No. 96, Shelton reached a career high of No. 15 in October.

While Shelton is making his U.S. Men’s Clay debut, he won’t be the first in his family to play at River Oaks. His father and coach, Bryan Shelton, won the 1992 River Oaks International which later merged with the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. Bryan, who coached the Georgia Tech women and later Florida men to NCAA titles, has been nominated for ATP Tour Coach of the Year.

At age 27, Eubanks is not an up-and-comer but a late bloomer. He enjoyed a mid-career breakthrough this season by first reaching the Top 100 in Miami in March, then winning his first ATP title in Mallorca in June before a stunning run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals. He began the 2023 season ranked No. 123 and reached a career-high of No. 29 in July. This will be his first trip back to River Oaks since falling in the qualifying rounds in 2018 and 2019. Before this year he may have been more familiar to tennis fans for his work as a Tennis Channel commentator, duties he continues as his playing schedule permits. Eubanks was a two-time All-American and ACC Player of the Year at Georgia Tech.

Tiafoe committing to defend his title was the first player announcement for the 2024 U.S. Clay tournament. The 25-year-old American won a career-best 40 matches this season and added a title in Stuttgart to his triumph at River Oaks. He climbed to a career high No. 10 this season, and followed up a run to the 2022 US Open semifinals by reaching the quarterfinals in New York this year.

All tickets are on sale now, including the Champ Pass – Finals Weekend package, which guarantees the same seat for the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, along with West Grandstand and Daily Tickets. To purchase or for more information, visit mensclaycourt.com/tickets.

Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club
River Oaks Country Club is hosting a professional tennis tournament for the 88th time when the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship will be held March 30-April 7, 2024. River Oaks first hosted its own tournament, The River Oaks International, in 1931, and its roster of former champions includes Jack Kramer, Tony Trabert, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas and James Blake. Houston is the 21st city to host the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. The tournament came to Houston in 2001, and has been hosted at River Oaks since 2008. Started in 1910 by the USTA, the 2024 tournament will be the 112th competition for the Clay Court Championship. American Frances Tiafoe was the 2023 singles champion while Australia’s Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson won the doubles title. The tournament beneficiary is the National Junior Tennis & Learning programs of the Houston Tennis Association. More information about the tournament can be found at www.mensclaycourt.com.

TC Staff

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