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Wednesday January 16, 2013First Look at the 2013 Florida Men's Tennis Team

Gainesville, Fla.

The Florida men’s tennis team kicks off the 2013 dual season this weekend, hosting the University of Miami at noon at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. After wrapping up individual play last weekend at the Three Oaks Shootout in Fort Myers, Florida turns its full attention to the upcoming dual season.


At the Three Oaks Shootout, the Gators compiled a 7-2 record in doubles and 15-6 mark in singles. The trio of Florent Diep, Stephane Piro and Gordon Watson went a combined 9-0 in singles, while Billy Federhofer and Watson teamed up to post a 3-0 record in doubles matches.


 “We just had a great weekend [at the Three Oaks Shootout] to kind of start out our spring 2013 season,” said head coach Bryan Shelton on Monday. “It’s always interesting taking that break for Christmas and then coming back and jumping right back into it. I was happy to see how well we competed for our first weekend out on the road. There were some good things and we’re really looking forward to this coming week.


 “We host Miami on Saturday at noon. Miami’s got a good strong squad, so we’re opening up with a really good match that’s going to test us early.”


This spring brings a lot of changes for the Gators, with a new coaching staff and several new players in the mix. Only four players that saw action in dual matches last season will be competing for Florida this spring, with three newcomers added to the mix and two more players forced to sit out.


“I still feel like we have a fairly young team,” said Coach Shelton. “Some of our upperclassmen haven’t been here that long. Florent Diep, who played probably the best of everyone on our team in the fall, this is only his second year here although he’s a junior. Stephane Piro, who is also a junior, was just competing for Florida for the first time this past weekend.


“Although we have some upperclassmen, we’re still fairly young and I feel like they’re still getting their feet wet a little bit. I expect us to get better as the season goes along. That’s always the goal in every match, you want to play better at the end than you do at the beginning, and it’s the same with the season.”


Seniors Billy Federhofer and Bob van Overbeek return, along with juniors Michael Alford and Florent Diep, to provide some much-needed experience for a squad that reached the NCAA Round of 16 in 2012 and finished ranked 12th in the final ITA poll. Entering the mix will be redshirt freshman Gordon Watson, who posted a 12-4 record in tournament play, and redshirt sophomore Stephane Piro, who was 3-0 in his first collegiate action over the weekend at the Three Oaks Shootout. True freshman Luke Johnson is the final player that is expected to contribute for the Gators this season. Junior Spencer Newman and sophomore Diego Hidalgo will not be eligible to play this spring but will practice with the team.


Florida will also be breaking in a new coaching staff this spring. Coach Shelton enters his first collegiate dual season at the helm of men’s program after a successful 13 seasons as the head women’s coach at Georgia Tech, winning a national title with the Yellow Jackets in 2007. Assistant Amer Delic joins the Gators after playing for nine years on the professional circuit and volunteer assistant Scott Perelman comes to UF after coaching stints at six previous schools, most recently North Carolina.


“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Shelton. “I’ve enjoyed the transition [from the women’s game to men’s]. I think the biggest thing for me has been trying to develop my program here at the University of Florida. When you’re developing a program, it’s more than just helping the guys on their forehand and their backhand and their serve. It’s really trying to instill good habits, and doing things the right way, and getting the guys to really buy into what we’re doing.”


With the season beginning this weekend, here’s a quick introduction to Coach Shelton. Coming on Thursday, we’ll give a quick preview of all seven players who will compete in the dual season for the Gators.



Head Coach Bryan Shelton

1st Season


The Bryan Shelton File

  • Birth date: December 22, 1965
  • Alma Mater: Georgia Tech, 1988 (Bachelor's of Industrial Engineering)
  • Family: Bryan and his wife, Lisa, have two children, Emma and Benjamin


Coaching Honors

  • 2007 USTA/ITA National Coach of the Year
  • 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008 ACC Coach of the Year
  • 2005, 2006 ITA South Region Coach of the Year
  • 1993 Georgia Tech Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2002 Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2006 Huntsville-Madison County Hall of Fame Inductee


Shelton's Accomplishments at Georgia Tech

As a Coach

  • 2007 National Champions
  • 2007, 2008 ITA National Indoor Team Champions
  • 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 ACC Champions
  • 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 ACC regular season champions
  • Won .678 percent of his matches to rank as the winningest tennis coach in Tech history
  • Won a school-record 227 matches
  • Led Tech to its only 13 NCAA appearances in history
  • 12 All-America selections in 13 years
  • 23 All-Atlantic Coast Conference players in 13 years
  • Nine Academic All-America or All-District honorees
  • 52 student-athletes named to ACC Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or higher) through 2011 season
  • No. 1 national ranking during 2006 and 2007 seasons
  • No. 1 final national ranking in 2007
  • School-record 29 wins in 2007


On entering his first season with the Gators:

It’s certainly been a great start so far, for me. New challenges, working in a new program, really just trying to build the program. Every coach has their philosophy. I certainly have mine, and I’ve been able to bring in two quality coaches to help me that share the same philosophy. I think Amer and Scott are definitely on the same page with what we want to do with this program. Getting the guys on board has been a process, and now we feel like now we’re moving this program in the right direction. We’ve been able to do that and so competing as a team there’s going to be some things that we learn throughout this season and how to do that more effectively together and how to battle together and also how to learn and process that information once we have it. Every week we get back to be able to work on the things we need to work on. We’re still working on doing things the right way every single day, and really trying to get the guys to completely buy in to doing the little things well. We understand it’s something that is going to evolve as our time here continues to move forward. We’re working hard every single day but also being somewhat patient to know that good results, if we do things the right way, will definitely come. We expect to have some really good results this year.


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