The University of Florida men’s tennis team announced through social media Tuesday that Sam Riffice and Duarte Vale had been named team captains for the upcoming season.
Riffice, a junior from Orlando, Florida, will be a captain for a second straight season after being awarded captaincy in the spring last season before the pandemic cut it short.
“We just noticed that he took a leadership role from the time he stepped on campus,” said Florida head coach Bryan Shelton in a UTSA article from January, “Plus his game. He’s had everybody’s respect from day one.”
Riffice, who was a five-star prospect out of high school, has been a starter both years he has been with the Gators. He has career records of 42-15 in overall singles—including a staggering 13-1 in SEC singles matches—and 34-9 in overall doubles. He was the 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year and ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year, as well as being named second-team All-SEC. Raffice has also been named the 2020 ITA National Player to Watch after being named to three All-American teams across two seasons (singles in 2019; singles and doubles in 2020).
Vale, born in Portugal, is one of five seniors on the team for the upcoming season. Vale has also been a starter every year he’s been in Gainesville, with a 67-26 career overall singles record and a 58-33 record in overall doubles. He’s a two-time All-American (doubles in 2018, singles in 2020) as well as being named the 2019 ITA Southeast Regional Singles Champion.
“Duarte is a guy who will always be at his best every single day,” coach Shelton told The Alligator last summer.
The Gators will return to competition in October, with a schedule that is yet to be revealed. They are returning after a 15-3 season in which they were ranked 9th in the final ITA Division I rankings released before the suspension of play.
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Senior Duarte Vale at day four of the ITA Tournament in Gainesville last year. He and junior Sam Raffice were names team captains Tuesday.
Ryan Haley is a second-year journalism major with a sports & media specialization from Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up playing a bunch of different sports before settling on golf, following Rory McIlroy and all Philadelphia sports teams. He also loves all things fiction, reading, watching shows and movies and talking about whatever current story or character is in his head.