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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Shelton becomes first Gator to win ITA All-American singles title

The sophomore clinched the trophy with a victory in Sunday’s final

<p>Ben Shelton celebrates during a match against TCU March 17.</p>

Ben Shelton celebrates during a match against TCU March 17.

Florida’s Ben Shelton made school history Sunday when he defeated San Diego’s August Holmgren, 6-3, 6-4, to clinch the International Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Championships singles title. The sophomore became the first Gators men’s tennis player to ever claim the crown.

Shelton, the son of UF head coach Bryan Shelton, defeated six ranked opponents in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on his way to the title without dropping a set. 

The first round opened with Shelton scheduled to battle No. 29 Martim Prata of Tennessee. The young Florida star dispatched the Volunteer 6-4, 6-2. 

South Carolina’s Daniel Rodrigues, the No. 3 seed and NCAA singles runner-up this past season, awaited Shelton in the next round. After a first-set victory, Shelton advanced when Rodrigues retired due to injury.

The Gainesville native’s run continued with another SEC victory over No. 24 Ronnie Hohmann of LSU, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals. Ohio State’s JJ Tracy, the No. 99 seed, pushed Shelton to a tiebreaker in the first set, but the Gator prevailed 7-6 (7), 7-5.

The second-year star blew past No. 72 Clement Chidekh of Washington, 7-3, 7-0, to book his duel with Holmgren for the title match. 

“Super proud of Ben for his play throughout this tournament,” his father and coach said in a release from the team. “He played with passion, poise and confidence against some of the best in college tennis.”

Shelton became the first debutant to claim the singles title since North Carolina’s William Blumberg in 2017. Since his first tournament representing Florida last October, Shelton contributed to a conference title, clinched the winning point of a national championship and now owns an ITA singles tournament victory.

Contact Ryan Haley at rhaley@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @ryan_dhaley.

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Ryan Haley

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.


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