Florida men's tennis coach Bryan Shelton steps down to work with pro son Ben
By MARK LONG
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida men's tennis coach Bryan Shelton, who led the Gators to the 2021 national championship and three Southeastern Conference titles in 11 seasons, is stepping down to coach his son Ben.
Bryan Shelton and the school made the announcement Friday, saying he and his wife Lisa plan to “spend more time with our family.” For Bryan, that means working more closely with Ben, an up-and-coming tennis pro.
Ben Shelton was ranked 36th entering the French Open, where his tournament debut ended with a four-set loss to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.
The 20-year-old Shelton had never competed - or even traveled - outside the United States until December, then made a splash at the Australian Open in January by reaching the quarterfinals.
The elder Shelton, 57, played at Georgia Tech (1985-88) and spent nearly a decade on tour. He began coaching in 1998, first with the USTA and then at his alma mater. He guided the Yellow Jackets to the 2007 women's national title.
Florida hired him in 2012 to coach the men's team. His tenure in Gainesville ends with 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, the crowning achievement of the 2021 NCAA team title coming with Sam Riffice and his then-freshman son leading the way.
Ben returned to school for his sophomore year and won the 2022 NCAA singles title before turning pro.
“We are so thankful for everything Bryan and his family have done to contribute to the University of Florida, the Gainesville community, Gator Nation and beyond,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “Not only has Bryan delivered championships, but he did it with a high level of accountability and standards that he held himself and everyone in the program to every day.
"His record on and off the court speaks for itself and the impact he has had on the student athletes he has coached will last throughout their lifetime.”
Stricklin said a “national search” for the program's 11th head coach will begin immediately.
While at Florida, Shelton helped develop nine players currently competing on pro tours: Andy Andrade, Oliver Crawford, Josh Goodger, Diego Hidalgo, Johannes Ingildsen, Alfredo Perez, Abdullah Shelbayh, Duarte Vale and his son.
Bryan Shelton released a thank-you note to players, administrators, assistant coaches and others.
“The love and support we have felt from day one has been amazing,” Shelton said. "The standard of excellence and your commitment to this place is what drew us here. Thanks for always honoring that commitment. Being able to join the most elite program in the nation was a dream come true. ...
“As we journey forward, Lisa and I are looking forward to spending more time with our family. We certainly wish everyone here at the University of Florida the very best and continued success.”
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Updated June 2, 2023