NOW he enters the big time.

Traralgon’s Josh Charlton is now touring the ATP Futures Circuit after graduating from the University of Oregon in June last year.

Charlton spent five years in Oregon, after receiving a scholarship to play tennis in their program. During his time in the US, Charlton also studied a Degree in Business and Economics, completing the four-year undergraduate course in five years, after gaining an extra year of eligibility due to COVID.

But on the court, it did not take him long to climb the ranks and become a stand-out at college level.

“I was 18, just finished high school and I just started to get some good results nationally and was able to win back-to-back doubles titles at the 18 and under nationals in Melbourne,” Charlton said.

“That gathered a bit of attention and attraction. Universities in the US started to reach out to me. I started to learn more about the opportunity to play college tennis in the States through the NCAA.

“(The University of) Oregon came along and offered me a full scholarship to go play tennis there. The level was very high, and the facilities were amazing, like things that you don’t really see in (Australia).”

Charlton finished his Junior Year with a 16-1 record and coming into his Sophomore Year (second year), he was playing in the top spot in the team.

“At the start (it was) very daunting going over to the States, but at the same time it was just playing tennis,” he said.

“I was able to land on my feet pretty quickly and get some good results.”

Charlton spoke on the college experience, which involved packed-out crowds for every match with a loud atmosphere, which he believes will leave him in good stead on tour.

College athletes are treated like royalty in the US, and often when some get recognised, they may find themselves eating for free at certain restaurants or signing autographs as their faces tend to be plastered all over the college.

Upon his time to leave Oregon, Charlton left quite the legacy behind for others to strive for.

On top of his all-time wins record at the school, he was also part of the highest-ranked doubles team in the University of Oregon’s history, earned fire team conference honours, and won the most pacific north-west title (three in five years) – which is more than the Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike) and John McEnroe – who played in the same division while in their college years.

Fast-forward to June last year, and Charlton left the University of Oregon a changed man.

He finished his college career with the most wins all-time in the college’s history, which he dubbed as “a great honour,” among many other achievements.

Charlton was also selected for the World University Games in Chengdu, China, which he mentioned was “great to be a part of”.

But after that, he was flying solo. And, that statement is true.

Charlton recognised the transition he had to make when finishing college and beginning his own journey, noticing the individuality to be much different from the team aspect in college.

“Competing in a team was so unique, because in tennis where it’s so individual, it kind of just means more,” he said.

“I think initially it was a big transition, and I think that’s something I’ve had to get used to a little bit because in college I had three coaches, a team manager, teammates, you’re just always surrounded by people, and everything is always organised for you.

“Now, I’m travelling and I’m just independent – all on my own. I’m booking everything, I’m doing everything.

“I did four weeks in Greece by myself, which kind of just makes you miss the team experience.”

Charlton set off for the beginning of his professional career at the end of last year, coming into 2024.

Playing for ATP Ranking Points on the ITF Futures Circuit, Charlton travelled to Greece, before coming back to these necks of the woods where he played in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Darwin, Cairns and in New Zealand, before his homecoming in February this year.

Before returning to Traralgon, Charlton had some success, playing in some doubles finals in Brisbane, Darwin, and New Zealand.

At the time of writing, he has worked his ATP singles ranking down to 1449, while his ATP doubles ranking has shot up to 543, which he describes as “a good start”.

Arriving in his hometown of Traralgon, Charlton realised he had not played on his home courts since an ATP Challenger back in 2021, so it had been a long time between drinks.

“It’s been great being back home and getting to spend time with the family, and especially working with dad (Graham ‘Woofa’ Charlton),” he said.

Woofa has been Charlton’s coach throughout his entire career, but being together in person meant no awkward times over the phone, the two could tweak things right then in the moment if needed.

Charlton saw his time back home as a time to refresh, see mates and be there for milestones that he would have normally missed.

While Charlton was unable to get out of the qualifying rounds in the singles during both ITF tournaments in Traralgon recently, it was quite a different story when teaming up with fellow Australian Blake Ellis in the doubles.

In the first ITF, Charlton and Ellis made it all of the way to the final but went down in straight sets to fellow Australian duo Matt Hulme and James Watt.

They made amends for their final blunder in the second tournament a week later, winning the doubles title convincingly in straight sets, defeating another Australian paring of Jesse Delaney and Ajeet Rai.

After the Traralgon tournaments, Charlton tested his trade at a Mildura ITF tournament, winning the doubles once again, this time in three sets, trumping those who defeated he and Ellis the first time around, Hulme and Watt.

Now heading back overseas, Charlton believes that his degree that he worked so hard for in Oregon could be put to use on his own career.

While playing solo might seem difficult enough, he has to manage himself now too, meaning he books all of his flights and accommodation and enters himself into tournaments.

He says that if the tennis route does not work out in the long run, he may decide to return to tennis in a different lens, becoming a coach.

Charlton mentioned that he would be interested to return to college tennis as a coach and would be open to returning to the University of Oregon to do so.

“Hopefully that’s a long way down the road,” he said.

Looking to head overseas for a big stint now, Charlton wants to maximise his time in Europe, Africa, and the US.

Egypt, the United Kingdom, and spending time in the US during its summer all look like potential routes that Charlton may take this year.

He hopes to finish the year strong and return to Australia for our summer, along with New Zealand where he enjoyed his time last year.

“I’m essentially just tracking what events are on … and targeting events that suit us as best as possible,” he said.

“Once you go overseas, you want to maximise your time over there. So you’re looking at long stints overseas.”