Florida men’s tennis coach Bryan Shelton resigns after 11 years to coach son, spend time with family

By OnlyGators.com Staff
June 2, 2023
Florida men’s tennis coach Bryan Shelton resigns after 11 years to coach son, spend time with family

Image Credit: UAA

In an open letter shared with Gator Nation on Friday, Florida Gators head men’s tennis coach Bryan Shelton resigned from his position after 11 years with the program. Shelton, who in 2021 led Gators men’s tennis to the first national championship in program history, oversaw a complete turnaround for a team that was floundering prior to his arrival.

Florida men’s tennis earned five Elite Eight berths in the last six completed seasons, qualified for the NCAA Tournament in all 10 of his campaigns, won three SEC regular-season titles (2019, 2021-22) and two SEC Tournament championships (2016, 2022) with numerous individual awards and honors finding his players.

Among the individual success of Shelton’s players were consecutive NCAA Singles Champions with his son, Ben Shelton (2022) and Sam Riffice (2021) becoming the first (different) players from the same program to win back-to-back men’s titles since 2004-05 and just the fourth duo to achieve such a feat in four decades.

“I’ve had the amazing opportunity here to be able to combine family and work and do what I love with the people I love; from my wife’s support, her wisdom and backing, to both our kids playing here,” Shelton said. “To have that, as well as the success we’ve had along the way — all with the tremendous support of our administration and these other great Gators coaches — and now to have a chance to continue to work with my son at the ATP level, it’s hard to count all my blessings. They keep multiplying. I feel like I’m the most blessed person on earth and it makes it easier to look to this exciting next chapter.”

Shelton, 57, chose to resign in order to coach his son and spend more time with his family. Ben Shelton, 20, is currently No. 36 in the ATP world rankings in his first year as a professional and appears on pace to become one of the best men’s tennis players in the world.

“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,” athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. “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.”

Former AD Jeremy Foley took a chance when he hired Shelton, who prior to joining Florida was the women’s coach at Georgia Tech where he led the Yellow Jackets to a national title in 2007 but was unable to get past the Sweet 16 in his final four seasons. That risk certainly paid off.

Now, it will be up to Stricklin to find a replacement.

Below are portions of Shelton’s extended open letter, which can be read in full here.

I am humbled to have worked at the University of Florida over the past eleven years. Jeremy Foley gave me a chance to do something that most coaches in this industry would never have the chance to do. Jeremy and his staff believed that I was the right person to help lead this program and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I am also thankful for Scott Stricklin, our current athletic director, who has navigated this athletic program so well through some very challenging times. […]

I would like to thank all of the student athletes that have always strived to become better and in the process made all of us better. I have been privileged to work with these young men and to witness their growth throughout my time here. […] I would also like to thank our phenomenal support staff. So many great people have contributed to our success over these eleven years and their dedication to the process and their dedication to the University of Florida has strengthened our culture and allowed us to constantly move forward. Their level of commitment is why the University of Florida is such a special place. I have worked alongside the greatest head coaches on the planet and have learned so many great lessons through our collaboration together. Jeremy and Scott have assembled the best coaching staff in the nation and I am so thankful to have been able to sit at the table with these great women and men.

Gator Nation, you have given my family a home here in Gainesville. The love and support we have felt from day one has been amazing. 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. To those coaches and players that came before us, thank you for paving the way and inspiring all of us and teaching us to respect this university and this tennis program. We are forever grateful! 

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