For fans of tennis, and more specifically college tennis, the display of dominance from players with collegiate ties at the 2023 US Open was no surprise, rather it was a confirmation of the successful pathway that has formed from the college game to the professional game.
Entering the final grand slam of the 2023 season, over 100 players with college ties filled the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles draws, setting records for the number of collegians competing in a grand slam.
Beginning with singles, four players with college ties advanced to at least the round of sixteen as Ben Shelton (Florida), Borna Gojo (Wake Forest), Rinky Hijikata (North Carolina), and Peyton Stearns (Texas) all made waves in the opening week of play from Flushing Meadows. For Gojo and Hijikata, their impressive results at the US Open helped them both crack the ATP Top 100 as each currently sit at career-high rankings.
Meanwhile, Shelton became the first NCAA Singles Champion to reach the Semifinals of a grand slam since John McEnroe in 1992 after he took down fellow Americans, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe in the round of sixteen and quarterfinals. Shelton has quickly ascended to one of the top players on tour since turning pro just over a year ago. The 20-year-old now ranks No. 19 in the world and is just two spots behind Cam Norrie (TCU) who is the current highest-ranked collegian on tour.
For Stearns, the 2023 US Open was a showcase of the immense talent she brings to the WTA Tour. The former NCAA Singles Champion had flown into the Top 100 during her first year as a pro and now sits at a career-high ranking of No. 44 in the WTA Singles Rankings. Stearns became just the sixth former NCAA Singles Champion to reach the US Open fourth round.
In doubles, former collegians were a part of every championship team at this year’s Open. Rajeev Ram (Illinois) and Joe Salisbury (Memphis) won the Men’s Doubles Championship, Erin Routliffe (Alabama) won the Women’s Doubles Championship, and Anna Danilina (Florida) took home the Mixed Doubles Championship.
Marking the fifth-straight grand slam in which at least one member of the winning men’s doubles team has come from the college ranks, Ram and Salisbury claimed their third-straight US Open Men’s Doubles title this year. The duo are the first pairing to ever win three straight US Open doubles titles in the history of the tournament.
As a former NCAA Doubles Champion, Routliffe has not only reached the top of doubles at the collegiate level but has now reached the top of doubles at the pro level as well by winning the US Open Women’s Doubles title. This grand slam championship marked the first in Routliffe’s professional career, as she climbs to a career-high WTA Doubles Ranking of No. 20.
The final doubles championship came from Mixed Doubles as Danilina took home the title for her first grand slam title. As a four-time ITA All-American in college, the Kazakhstan native has flourished these past two years on tour, reaching the mixed doubles quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the women’s doubles finals at the 2022 Australian Open.
However, it wasn’t just these players making waves at the US Open this year, as both current and former collegians also excelled in the boy’s and girl’s singles draws.
Incoming Stanford freshman, Katherine Hui, was the 2023 US Open Girls Singles Champion. The native of San Diego, California was recently tabbed as the No. 1 ranked newcomer in the ITA Preseason Rankings and will look to continue her development with the very talented Cardinal team this season.
In the boy’s draw, newly turned pro, Learner Tien (USC), finished as the runner-up for the second time in his junior career. The two-time USTA U18 Boy’s National Champion competed for the Trojans this past spring before electing to forgo his remaining eligibility to start his full-time professional career.
Notable US Open Results by Players with College Ties
Rajeev Ram | Illinois | Men’s Doubles Champion
– Six Time Grand Slam Champion (US Men’s – 2021, 2022, 2023) (Australian Men’s – 2020) (Australian Mixed – 2019, 2021)
Joe Salisbury | Memphis | Men’s Doubles Champion
– Six Time Grand Slam Champion (US Men’s – 2021, 2022, 2023) (Australian Men’s – 2020) (US Mixed – 2021) (French Mixed – 2021)
Erin Routliffe | Alabama | Women’s Doubles Champion
– First Time Grand Slam Champion (US Women’s – 2023)
Anna Danilina | Florida | Mixed Doubles Champion
– First Time Grand Slam Champion (US Mixed – 2023)
Katherine Hui | Stanford | Girls Singles Champion
– First Time Grand Slam Champion (US Girls – 2023)
Learner Tien | USC | Boys Singles Finalist
Ben Shelton | Florida | Men’s Singles Semifinalist
Borna Gojo | Wake Forest | Men’s Singles Round of Sixteen
Peyton Stearns | Texas | Women’s Singles Round of Sixteen