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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Bryan Shelton named Coach of the Year, Gators claim five All-SEC awards

No. 2 Gators roster showered with conference awards

Sam Riffice readies for a backhand against Auburn on February 21. Riffice was named first-team All-SEC Friday.
Sam Riffice readies for a backhand against Auburn on February 21. Riffice was named first-team All-SEC Friday.

Almost a week after the Florida men’s tennis team fell in the SEC Championship against the Tennessee Volunteers, the All-Conference awards gave the Gators another reason to celebrate.

Friday morning, the SEC handed out its annual awards to recognize top athletes and coaches of the season. The No. 2 Gators found themselves all over the list, including head coach Bryan Shelton and his son, freshman Ben Shelton. 

The ninth-year coach returned to the sidelines of Linder Stadium and managed his team to a two-loss season, including 18 consecutive victories. During Florida’s remarkable win streak, the team climbed the ladder from No. 9 to the No. 1 team in the country and planted their feet at the top for four weeks. 

But the party didn’t stop in the Shelton household. Ben, a Gainesville native, earned an SEC All-Freshman award. Armed with a wicked serve, the hype man of the roster offered an 18-2 solo mark as well as a five-game doubles win streak to cap off the SEC run. 

Florida captains Duarte Vale and Sam Riffice were also awarded first team All-SEC honors alongside senior Andy Andrade. 

The captain tandem did well while they teamed up in the first half of the season, and they posted a 9-6 tally. But their talents really shined in the singles competition, as they ground out a combined 32-9 record.

The undefeated Blaise Bicknell missed out on the first team fun, but conference voters placed him on the Second Team.

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Senior Josh Goodger, another undefeated Gator, couldn’t be found on either list.

While the team celebrates its feats, the No. 2 Florida Gators are still in preparation mode for the NCAA Regional tournament in Lake Nona, Florida, on May 5. As of Friday, tournament seedings have not been set but announcements are expected sometime within the next week.

Contact Jesse Richardson at and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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