Ben Shelton’s Racquet, Strings, Grip & More
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Ben Shelton is one of the ATP Tour’s most explosive up-and-comers who turned pro in 2022 and has already notched impressive results, including a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open, a semifinal appearance at the US Open, helping lift him to a first-ever top 20 ranking.
Although his talent, work ethic, and unwavering self-confidence are the driving forces behind his early success, it’s undeniable that Ben’s gear plays a crucial role in performing his best.
In this guide, I shed light on Shelton’s gear, including his racquet, strings, string tension, grip, shoes, bag, and apparel, so you know what he uses as a point of reference for deciding on the best equipment for your needs.
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Ben Shelton plays with the Yonex EZONE 98, a popular racquet endorsed by many other tour pros, including Nick Kyrigios and Naomi Osaka.
Here are the specs for the Yonex EZONE 98.
|Head Size||98 in² (632.26 cm²)|
|Length||27 in (68.58 cm)|
|Strung Weight||11.4 oz (323 g)|
|Balance||32.49 cm / 6pts HL|
|Beam Width||23.5mm / 24.5mm / 19.5mm|
|Composition||2G-NAMD SPEED / HM Graphite|
|Grip Size||4 3/8 in|
|Grip||Yonex Excel Pro (synthetic leather)|
|Main String||Yonex Poly Tour Strike – 16 (1.30)|
|Cross String||Yonex Poly Tour Pro – 16 (1.30)|
|Main String Tension||60 lbs (27.2 kg)|
|Cross String Tension||57 lbs (25.9 kg)|
One of my favorite racquets, the EZONE 98 offers a well-balanced performance that’s highly adaptable to a wide range of player styles and an excellent match for Ben’s dynamic game.
Before switching to the Yonex EZONE 98 in early 2023, Ben played with the Yonex VCORE Pro 97D, now branded as the Yonex Percept 97D. It was a heavier, control-oriented frame built for precision, but based on his style of play, it’s unsurprising that moving to the EZONE has worked out well.
Compared to his older VCORE Pro 97D, the EZONE 98 offers more power, helping him battle with extra pace from the baseline and hit bigger serves, evident at the 2023 US Open, where he clocked one of the fastest of all time at 149 mpg (239.8 km/h).
The EZONE’s open 16×19 string pattern also delivers more bite and aggressive rotation on the ball than the VCORE Pro 97D’s tighter 18×20 setup, keeping his opponents on their toes and helping to provide extra net clearance that lends itself to better overall consistency.
Ben Shelton uses a hybrid string setup, combining Yonex Poly Tour Strike at 60 lbs (27.2 kg) in the mains and Yonex Poly Tour Pro slightly looser at 57 lbs (25.9 kg) in the crosses. With both of these strings, he’s opting for the thicker 16 gauge or 1.30 mm.
|Spec||Yonex Poly Tour Strike||Yonex Poly Tour Pro|
|Gauge||16 / 1.30 mm||16 / 1.30 mm|
|Length||40 ft / 12 m||40 ft / 12 m|
|Composition||Co-polyester Monofilament||Co-polyester Monofilament|
|Tension||60 lbs (27.2 kg)||57 lbs (25.9 kg)|
Poly Tour Strike is a firm, low-powered polyester string with excellent control, spin, and durability. On the other hand, Poly Tour Pro is a softer, spin-friendly alternative popular among the pros.
Regarding tension, I wouldn’t get too hung up on the exact numbers, as Ben will change his string tension throughout the year to suit the conditions. As a baseline, he strings his racquets pretty tight. For reference, commentators discussed the numbers I reference during his 2023 US Open quarterfinal match against Frances Tiafoe, when temperatures reached 90 degrees with high humidity.
Ben previously strung his old racquet, the Yonex VCORE 97D, with Yonex Poly Tour Fire, then he switched to the orange Yonex Poly Tour Rev, which many fans might recall when he was starting to hit everyone’s radar. He even used the purple color Poly Tour Rev for a brief stint.
However, when he switched to the EZONE 98, he also switched to a full bed of Poly Tour Pro, an excellent pair for the racquet. Unsatisfied, he recently moved to the Poly Tour Strike and Poly Tour Pro hybrid.
Ben Shelton doesn’t use a vibration dampener in his racquet, most likely because he prefers the sound and feel without one.
Counter to common beliefs, playing with a vibration dampener will not protect a player’s arm against the harsh shock and vibration that leads to injuries like tennis elbow. However, they will change a racquet’s sound and feel, which some players enjoy and others don’t.
Ultimately, their use by players like Ben on the pro tour is a personal preference, and he doesn’t use one.
Regarding Ben Shelton’s grip, there are two facets to consider: the grip he wraps around the handle of his racquet and how he holds the handle for various shots, including his forehand and backhand.
As of now, no one has shared Ben Shelton’s grip size. However, looking at pictures of his racquet online and considering his height, standing at 6′ 4″ (1.93m) tall, we can reasonably assume he’s using a size three or four.
My best guess is that he’s using a size three or 4 3/8 inches, which he pads slightly with an overgrip, increasing it by a half size. For context, here are all of the available grip sizes for racquets.
Keep in mind that selecting a grip size is a personal preference, so Ben’s playing with whatever feels best in his hand. As he continues to find success on the ATP tour, we’ll undoubtedly hear more about his racquet.
Replacement & Overgrip
Ben Shelton plays with the EZONE 98, which comes standard with the Yonex Excel Pro synthetic leather grip. The grip is 1.6mm thick and 25mm wide, providing a firm feel for optimal response.
For his overgrip, Ben has gone back and forth between a white Yonex Super Grap overgrip and the classic blue Tourna grip, which I’ve seen him using more often recently. Both are excellent grips; in some cases, he might opt for whatever suits the conditions best.
As is most common on tour, Ben Shelton uses a semi-western forehand grip, which allows him to generate excellent topspin and power.
He’s a left-handed tennis player, so he places the palm side of his index finger’s knuckle on the sixth bevel of his racquet’s handle, then closes his fingers around the racquet handle to secure it. You can form this grip using the fourth bevel as a right-hander.
Ben also lets a portion of his palm sit below the racquet’s handle, giving him more leverage and the ability to increase racquet head speed more aggressively for topspin.
Although Ben’s backhand isn’t as explosive as his forehand, it’s a super reliable shot, which he often mixes up with hitting slice.
He uses a standard two-handed grip to hit his backhand, where he first holds a continental grip with his left hand and then places his right hand above his left, forming an eastern grip.
To replicate the grip, hold the base of your racquet handle with the index finger’s knuckle of your left hand against the eighth bevel. Next, place your right hand above your left with your index finger’s knuckle against the third bevel and wrap your fingers.
Serve & Volley Grip
Hitting serves and volleys, Ben Shelton uses a continental grip, which is standard across all players on the ATP tour.
As a lefty, Ben forms the continental grip by placing the palm side of his index finger’s knuckle against the eighth bevel. He then positions the butt of the racquet’s handle at the base of his palm for control and maneuverability.
The continental grip is ubiquitous for serves because of its versatility, allowing players to hit several types of serves without changing their grip. However, it’s also the exact grip used for various other shots, including volleys and overheads.
Following his quarterfinal performance at the 2023 Australian Open, Swiss shoe company On took a chance on Ben Shelton, sponsoring him to wear The Roger Pro, a shoe designed in collaboration with Roger Federer, before ending his career on the pro tour.
The Roger Pro comes in two different models: the standard hard court version and another for clay, which features a herringbone-style tread pattern ideal for the court surface, so you’ll see Ben wearing both of these as the season shifts from one type of court to another.
On will also make a custom version of these shoes for Ben during the grass court swing with subtle bumps or pimples on the outsole for optimal traction. As of now, these aren’t available for purchase to the public.
When On partnered with Ben Shelton, they didn’t stop at the shoes, instead choosing to go all in on apparel, dressing him from head to toe in their gear. Ben wears their shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, shorts, socks, and headbands when he steps on the court.
It’s worth noting that Ben is the first male tennis player that On has sponsored, right alongside Iga Swaitek as the first female.
With Roger Federer heavily involved in On’s business, it’s no surprise the company is diving head-first into the tennis market. Assuming Ben continues to succeed on the court, On will likely do everything possible to maintain the partnership as long as they can.
Currently, a watch company doesn’t sponsor Ben Shelton, which isn’t a huge surprise considering his short time on tour. Typically, watch sponsors only show up to sponsor tennis athletes once a player has consistently established themselves as one of the best.
If Ben can keep up his current results and performances while staying healthy, someone will likely approach him in the next year or two.
As a Yonex-sponsored athlete for his racquets and strings, Ben also uses a Yonex racquet bag. More specifically, he sports the Yonex Pro Racquet bag in the 12-pack option, one of my picks for the best, and the bag that all pros sponsored by Yonex bring to the court.
Ben also brings the Pro Medium Size Boston Bag to the court for matches, which is perfect for storing any extra gear he may need.
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