Head Coach Bryan Shelton and the top-ranked 2021 University of Florida Men’s Tennis Team made history on Saturday night, winning the program’s first national championship. The Gators defeated the second-ranked University of Baylor Bears by a match score of 4-1 in the team’s first national title appearance.
Florida clinched its first national title when Shelton’s son, freshman Ben Shelton, won his singles match against Baylor’s Charlie Broom. The title capped off a historic season in which the Gators (26-2) lost only two matchups.
Shelton, along with veteran players Duarte Vale and Andy Andrade beginning in 2018, have gradually improved the team’s tournament finish each year (excluding 2020 when the team’s season was ended prematurely due to COVID-19) finishing in the Round of 16 in 2017, the Elite Eight in 2018, the Final Four in 2019 and culminating in the program’s first ever title this season.
The team’s final three victories in the NCAA tournament, which took place at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, came against competition from Texas universities, winning three straight against No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 4 Texas and Baylor. The Gators also defeated No. 16 Illinois, USF and the University of Southern Alabama en route to a title.
Although the team’s season is finished, a handful of players competed in the NCAA Individual Championships. Vale, Riffice and Andrade were selected to compete for the singles title while the combinations of Riffice/Vale and Johannes Ingildsen/Will Grant were selected to compete for doubles. Riffice has advanced to the Round of 16 in the singles title and is still competitive to become a two-time national champion this year.