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UF Men’s Tennis: Gators win National Championship

Ben Shelton reacts after his clinching win at No. 5 singles to secure Florida’s first men’s tennis national championship.
Photo By: Courtney Culbreath

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SCOTT CARTER

The UF men’s tennis team defeats Baylor to win the program’s first national title

The wait is over.

The Gators men’s tennis team claimed the program’s first national title on Saturday night, defeating Baylor 4-1 in the NCAA Championship at the USTA National Campus. The fourth time was the charm for Florida, which lost in the national semifinals in three previous trips to the Final Four.

However, after sweeping Texas on Friday to advance to Saturday’s championship, the No. 1-seed Gators (25-2) refused to lose, despite dropping the doubles point to the second-seed Bears (34-5) late Saturday night. The match started around 10 p.m. ET following a four-hour women’s championship in which Texas defeated Pepperdine.

When freshman Ben Shelton capped Florida’s victory with a clinching win over Charlie Broom at No. 5 singles, it was about 10 minutes after midnight.

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Shelton’s father, Gators head coach Bryan Shelton, didn’t mind the Gators keeping him up late. Shelton became the first head coach in college tennis history to win a women’s national title (2007 at Georgia Tech) and a men’s national championship.

“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.”

The Gators got singles wins from Shelton, Andy Andrade, Sam Riffice, and Josh Goodger to storm back after the Bears gained the early momentum.

Sheldon needed time to collect his thoughts afterward. In his ninth season in charge of the program, the Gators stood at the top, a place they had never been since the program’s inception in 1940.

“Pretty speechless tonight. Normally I have a lot of words,” Sheldon 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.”

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