As a formerly world-ranked tennis player and collegiate All-American, Gator men’s tennis head coach Bryan Shelton is no stranger to success.
The Hunstville, Alabama native earned an industrial engineering degree from Georgia Tech. If that isn’t impressive enough, Shelton also lettered in tennis for the Yellow Jackets, winning both the ACC Singles Championship as well as the US Amateur Championship in 1985.
During Shelton’s decade-long professional career, he reached an all-time high singles ranking of 55 and doubles ranking of 52 in the world.
“I had some wins over top ten players like Andre Agassi and others, so I had a good professional career,” he said.
When he retired from the professional tour, Shelton began coaching for the United States Tennis Association, where he worked with players like Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish. He said he knew he “wanted to do something different,” and collegiate coaching was the path he chose to take.
“I felt like it was something I could do to impact others, especially others that are between the ages of 19 and 22,” he said.
Shelton began coaching the women’s team at his alma mater in 1999. Under his leadership, the women won multiple conference titles as well as a national title in 2007.
In 2012, Shelton began coaching the Gator men’s tennis team. He says he knew the University of Florida was the right choice for him because of the integrity of the programs.
“To be able to switch over from women’s side to the men’s side is a unique opportunity that most people don’t get; to do it here at the University of Florida where excellence is the norm, I wanted to be part of something like that. And like they say it’s great to be a Florida Gator,” he said.
The men never have an easy season, facing a majority of ranked opponents. He said they have had some success early on, but they have also taken their lumps. His goal is to make sure that every day they are working hard and improving. Shelton’s coaching philosophy is just as much about shaping the players as it is about shaping their game.
“I’m really working with the guys to help them develop as people. I really want the program to be one that people look at and say they do things with integrity,” he said.
Overall, Shelton is pleased with what this young team has accomplished so far in the season. The goal for this season is to win the conference championship, and Shelton likes the way the men are working.
“So that’s something we are striving for; we know between now and then there’s going to be some adversity, there are going to be some storms, but we have to weather the storms and embrace them when they come and face the adversity and continue to work and do the things that we know will lead us to success.”