Florida's Shelton named SEC Coach of Year, other Gators recognized

Special to Gatorsports.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Florida’s Bryan Shelton was named the 2021 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Gators to an undefeated 12-0 record in SEC play and a 20-2 record overall this season, the conference announced Friday.

Shelton, who oversaw his program’s second regular season conference title in three years, was awarded the award for the third time in his career, winning it also in 2016 and 2019.

The SEC also named its first, second and freshman teams for the year with Andy Andrade, Sam Riffice, Duarte Vale, Blaise Bicknell and Ben Shelton earning recognition.

Andrade, Riffice and Vale were named First Team All-SEC while Bicknell was named Second Team All-SEC. Shelton was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Andrade is 14-7 in dual singles matches this season and has added eight doubles wins as well while Riffice has put together an 18-4 singles record and a 13-6 record in doubles. Vale, who has played at the No. 1 spot all season, went 15-6 in singles and tallied 12 wins in doubles.

Bicknell was an impressive 20-0 in dual singles matches this season and a perfect 29-0 overall for the 2020-21 year in singles. Shelton was 17-4 in dual singles matches this season and 12-6 in doubles play on the year.

Florida will now await the NCAA Selection Show at 6:30 p.m. Monday to find out its seed and location for the NCAA Tournament. It was already named a pre-approved potential site to host the first and second rounds at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

Women's tennis

Four Florida players garnered recognition: Senior McCartney Kessler collected All-SEC First Team honors, Ida Jarlskog and Marlee Zein were tabbed to the second team and Sara Dahlstrom earned an All-Freshman team nod.

2021 marks Kessler's third season receiving SEC recognition, as she earned All-SEC First Team honors in 2018 and a Second Team designation in 2019. For Jarlskog, it's the Sweden native's second All-SEC award after she earned First Team status in 2019. The junior from Texas, Zein, brought home a conference honor for the second time following her All-Freshman team nod in 2019.

Playing at the team's top spots in both singles and doubles, Kessler has set the tone for the Gators all season long. The Georgia native paced the Gators with a 13-2 mark in dual match singles play along with a 9-6 record in dual match doubles.

One of Florida's two seniors, Jarlskog has played a key role in the Gators' success in 2021. The Sweden native registered an 8-4 mark in dual match play including a 6-1 record in SEC matches. Finishing the regular season on a five-match winning streak, Jarlskog posted two wins over ranked opponents and recorded three match-clinching victories. 

Zein put together an impressive junior season with the Gators, recording a 10-8 record in dual match singles and a 9-6 mark in dual match doubles. Competing primarily at Florida's No. 2 singles position, Zein rose to as high as No. 36 in the ITA rankings and sits at No. 58 in the final regular season issue. The Texas native collected three victories over ranked foes including two top-50 wins. In doubles, Zein and Kessler recorded nine-straight victories and finished the regular season with five wins over nationally-ranked opponents.

Dahlstrom finished the dual match season with six singles wins and six doubles victories. Competing primarily at the No. 4 and No. 5 singles positions, Dahlstrom appeared in the ITA singles rankings twice, rising to as high as No. 111 in late March. The Sweden native added Florida's match-clinching win over Arkansas and was named SEC Freshman of the Week on March 17. In doubles, Dahlstrom and Sydney Berlin were the primary option for the Gators on court three where they compiled three crucial conference victories. In her first season of collegiate competition, the rookie's efforts were key in Florida's strong finish to the year.

Georgia's Katrina Jokic was tabbed the SEC Player of the Year and the Bulldogs' Jeff Wallace earned SEC Coach of the Year honors.

With the regular season and SEC Tournament in its rear view, UF will learn of its NCAA seeding Monday. The 2021 women's tennis championship selection show will be streamed live on NCAA.com at 6 p.m.