Ben Shelton is making the most of his first international trip. The #NextGenATP American, who had never left the United States before the start of the season, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday with a 7-6(3), 7-6(3), 7-5 victory against Nicolas Jarry.

“It feels great. Definitely been a cool experience to be outside the U.S. so far,” Shelton said. “So I’m excited for what’s to come and grateful that I got the chance to come here.”

The 20-year-old clearly enjoyed the moment competing in the second round of a major for the first time. The lefty drew on the crowd and soaked it all in.

“I definitely got some similar crowds at the US Open last year, so I kind of got used to that. And then playing college tennis, the crowds are a lot rowdier. They try to get in your head a lot more, and the cheering isn’t as polite,” Shelton said, cracking a laugh. “In terms of dealing with crowds, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with that. I think the hardest part was just dealing with the time change and getting my legs back and just how I felt. Obviously, it’s my first trip out of the country, so I have never dealt with a time change more than three hours.

“So I think it was the hardest part for me. Going from Adelaide the first week I didn’t feel great, and I started feeling really good in the second week in Auckland, and now I think I’m starting to hit my stride.”

It is easy to forget that this time last year, Shelton was playing college tennis for the University of Florida, where he was not yet the top player in his father Bryan Shelton’s lineup. His Pepperstone ATP Ranking? World No. 569.

Shelton does not recall a specific moment when his game started to click, but felt he was making gradual improvements over time.

“I took a little while to kind of get my feet under me and really start hitting my stride, but I’m not sure if there was a moment where things clicked or it was just I knew that I was making gradual improvements in my game,” Shelton said. “And I just started trusting myself more and more going into the summer. And the more that I competed at a higher level, I had more trust in myself to keep moving forward.”

[ATP APP]

As exciting as the moment is for Shelton, he is staying level-headed despite being ranked higher than his third-round opponent, Australian Alexei Popyrin.

“Every match here is tough. If you make the third round of a Slam, the second round of a Slam, I mean, even if you are just in the Slam, you are playing at a pretty good level,” Shelton said.

The American hopes he will play in one of the event’s bigger stadiums to enjoy the moment. The World No. 89 is off home soil for the first time, and making the most of the opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Shelton said. “I’m not looking too far forward or worrying about who I’m going to play, but I’m just kind of taking it all in right now.”

Generated by Feedzy