© Ben Peskar

Alex Michelsen at the 2023 Cleveland Challenger.

18-Year-Old Michelsen Upsets Sock At Cleveland Challenger

The California teen is the youngest American in the Top 500 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings

Although his trip to the Cleveland Open involved spending a night inside the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Alex Michelsen is making the best of his second ATP Challenger Tour appearance.

On Tuesday, the 18-year-old wild card was calm, cool, and collected as he defeated former World No. 8 Jack Sock 7-6(3), 6-4 at the Challenger 75 event in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I was feeling good throughout the match and I did everything well,” Michelsen said. “I executed the game plan very well. I knew he was going to come out firing. His serve and forehand are obviously fantastic, that’s how he got to Top 10 in the world. But I stuck to the game plan and it worked well. Best win of my life so far.”

ATP Challenger Tour 

Michelsen, who hails from Southern California, is a senior in high school and is set to graduate from an online school this spring. After triumphing at the ITF M15 in Edmond, Oklahoma a week ago, the youngster began his journey to the Cleveland Open, but it wasn’t without interruption. Michelsen missed his connecting flight in Dallas, which forced him to get some shut-eye in the airport. The teen shared he enjoys a routine and while the trip to Cleveland may have been hindered, he still pulled off the opening-round victory.

“When I get to a tournament and I win, I try to eat the same things, use the same hat, same racquets, same shower in the locker room,” Michelsen said. “I’m a little superstitious but I don’t think it’s too over the top. Sometimes when I’m travelling with people, they’re like, ‘We have to eat here again?’”

Since winning the 2022 FILA Easter Bowl in singles and doubles (w/ Sebastian Gorzny), Michelsen has been building upon his momentum. In October, the American advanced through qualifying at the Tiburon Challenger and earned his maiden Challenger main draw win against China’s Shang Juncheng.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/alex-michelsen/m0qi/overview'>Alex Michelsen</a> in action at the 2023 Cleveland Challenger.
Alex Michelsen in action at the 2023 Cleveland Challenger. Credit: Ben Peskar

The University of Georgia commit, who began playing tennis at age three, trains with coaches Jay Leavitt and Eric Diaz in Laguna Niguel, California. Michelsen grew up around the sport and to this day, he eats, sleeps, and breathes tennis. His dad, Erik, played at the University of Redlands and now works as a lawyer while his mom, Sondra, played for San Diego State University and is a retired third-grade teacher.

The California teen said it’s not uncommon for him to spend five hours a day on court when he’s training at home. Boasting a solid backhand and deft feel around the net, the World No. 467 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings hopes to add his name to the next generation of top American players.

You May Also Like: Books, Psychologist, & Challenger Tour Play Role In Mmoh’s Top 100 Return

“I don’t know the last time we had this many Americans in the Top 50 or 100,” Michelsen said. “Ben [Shelton’s] rise has been incredible, he went from like 600 to 40 in 13 months. All those guys in the Top 50… I think the next five years are looking good for American tennis. I train with Learner Tien, who was a finalist at the Australian Open juniors. Hopefully we can get a No. 1, that would be really awesome.”

After earning his career-best win in the opening round of the Cleveland Challenger, tennis fans ought to remember the name: Alex Michelsen.

More stories like this in: