Bryan Shelton was hired to be the head coach of Gators men’s tennis in 2012. It was a program that wasn’t known as a national championship contender. They won nine SEC championships, but never a national championship in the 89 year history of the program. That changed once Shelton took over.
Building toward a championship
Shelton has found success everywhere he has coached. He started the Georgia Tech women’s team in 1999, and led the Yellow Jackets to a National Championship in 2007.
Former UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley hired Shelton away from Georgia Tech in 2012. Immediately after the hire, the Gators began having success.
Florida has made it to the NCAA Tournament every year so far under Shelton. The Gators made it to the Round of 16, and the Elite 8 two times each during that period. Also, the Gators went to the Final Four in 2019.
There was a lot of hope that the Gators would finally break through and win the championship in 2020 after the previous year’s Final Four run. Unfortunately, that season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Here’s coach Shelton on what that time was like:
Florida finally breaks through
The Gators were able to bring back much of the same team from 2020, and the hope of a national championship returned. Florida went 26-2 in the regular season, and a perfect 12-0 in the SEC. The Gators ran through the NCAA Tournament on their way to the championship game against Baylor. The Gators finally won the title after a 4-1 victory over Baylor.
Coach Shelton was named the Wilson ITA Coach of the Year in 2021 for bringing a championship to Gainesville for the first time in program history.
What’s the next challenge for coach Shelton?
Expectations will remain high going into next season. The Gators will bring back all but one player from the championship team, so there’s a lot of hope of going back-to-back.
Coach Shelton also has his son Ben Shelton on the team. He talked about what it means to him to be able to coach his son.