Aussie teen Benjamin Wenzel excited for Grand Slam debut at US Open
Meet Benjamin Wenzel, a 16-year-old from Cairns, who will compete in the US Open 2023 junior wheelchair competition.
Australia’s top-ranked junior wheelchair player, Benjamin Wenzel, is set to make his Grand Slam debut at US Open 2023.
The world No.7 will compete in the boys’ junior wheelchair events at Flushing Meadows.
“It is like a dream come true for me,” said the 16-year-old from Cairns.
“It’s a super cool opportunity and hopefully the first of many Grand Slams for me.”
Wenzel spoke to tennis.com.au ahead of his making his major debut in New York …
It’s really cool to be part of a tournament that’s that big. I’ve been to a couple of Grand Slams, but never actually been a part of it with accreditation, playing and actually seeing behind the scenes. That’s the really cool bit.
He told me that New York is busy and just expect the unexpected. That was the first year that they had held the event and the USTA have told us they’re making a lot of improvements this year. It’s still pretty exciting that a junior wheelchair competition has been introduced at the US Open. Hopefully the Australian Open brings it in eventually too.
I’ve been to America, but more on the West Coast than the East Coast. So this is my first time on that side, which is really exciting.
For me, when I started, I just really loved being part of the community. The wheelchair tennis community, in particular, is very tight knit. Heath Davidson is one of my idols and one of the first experiences that I had with wheelchair tennis, he actually came up to Cairns to be part of a camp that they did. To really see him in person and meet him, that was really big for me. It let me see firsthand where I want to get and how I want to be. He has continued to help with my development along the way as well. Every time I’m in Melbourne, I try to see if he’s around and if we can hit. It’s really cool to see that he’s that open to hitting with juniors and trying to mentor them through their journey as well.
I’m the only one. I have a private coach who works with me and who is trained in wheelchair tennis. He’s been getting me to play all different types of players, so I’m constantly integrating with able-bodied men and juniors as well.
The highlight of my junior career has been representing Australia at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup, which is like the Davis Cup equivalent in wheelchair tennis. I’ve played that event twice, both in Portugal, over the last two years. In 2022, we actually won the event, so that was really cool. This year we came fourth, which was also really good. Also participating in the Junior Masters and placing in the top three there, that was also a really cool individual experience.
Brisbane 2032 would probably be the biggest long-term goal for me. It would be pretty exciting to play at the Paralympics in my home state, as well as alongside all my idols that I watched growing up and who have supported me throughout my tennis journey.
Heath Davidson is a big one. He’s there, so obviously it will be pretty cool for me to catch up with him again. There are a couple other able-bodied and wheelchair players that I would love to see and watch play. It’s really exciting thing to know I’ll be playing alongside my idols at a Grand Slam. I’ll be trying to bring my best to every single match and leave it all out on the court.
Tokito Oda. He’s the world No.1 in men’s wheelchair and only 17. Seeing what he’s achieved at such a young age, it’s incredible. Watching him play and seeing his game in person at this high-level is another thing that can help me work towards my goals and what I want to achieve as a tennis player.
I know that I’m one of the best juniors in the world. I’ve definitely got the skills to compete against the other players that are there, so I think for me, it’s just about coming in with confidence and knowing I have the support of the team around me, and then just doing what I can do.
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