It was long overdue and patiently waited for.
The Florida Gators men’s tennis team claimed the program’s first national title on Saturday night, defeating No. 1 Baylor 4-1 in the NCAA Championship. After losing three previous trips to the Final Four, the fourth time was the charm for the No. 1 seeded Gators.
After sweeping Texas on Friday to advance to Saturday’s championship, losing was not an option. The Gators finally started their match at 10 p.m. after a four-hour-long women’s championship. The final singles match between Ben Shelton and Charlie Broom, which secured victory for the Gators, ended about 10 minutes after midnight.
Florida’s head coach Bryan Shelton was far from tired after watching his son secure victory for his team.
“Trying to make me cry. Yeah, it’s special,” Shelton said of his son clinching the win during this on-court interview after the match. “I’ve got 10 guys over there. Ten guys that came out every day and worked. I’m just really proud of you guys and what you’ve done.”
Shelton is the 24th coach across all NCAA sports to lead two different programs to a national team title. Of those 24, Shelton is the fifth to coach a national championship team in a men’s and women’s sport.
After a long-awaited victory, Shelton needed time to collect his thoughts. As he watched his team celebrate being at the top, a place the program has never seen since its beginning in 1940.
“Pretty speechless tonight. Normally I have a lot of words,” Shelton said. “To see these guys here and see what they have gone through in the last year, year and a half … and come together tonight and compete and put it out on the line, it’s truly special.”
Just 24 hours after securing its first national title, Andy Andrade, Sam Riffice and Duarte Vale advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Singles Tournament. The trio was unstoppable.
Andrade and Vale took victory in two sets while Riffice was able to come back from a 1-6 deficit in the first round to advance.
The Round of 32 begins Monday.
Vale will take on August Holmgren of San Diego while Riffice is up against Andres Martin of Georgia Tech with both matches beginning at 2 p.m.
Andrade faces off against UCF’s Gabriel Decamps at 3 p.m.
Men’s Tennis joins baseball, gymnastics, softball, men’s tennis, men’s indoor track & field and men’s outdoor track & field as the sixth Gator program to claim its first NCAA team title in the last 12 seasons.
The tennis victory awards the Gator program with its 42nd national title.