Welcome to Florida Week! As the tours head southeast for the Miami Open, TENNIS.com and Baseline will feature all things Sunshine State. You’ll learn about the personalities, stories, teams and venues that have made Florida one of the tennis capitals of the world. We’ll also be reporting from the Miami Open in Key Biscayne.
As you’ll learn this week, when it comes to tennis, Florida isn’t just a state—it’s a state of mind.
Currently ranked No. 1 (in the women's rankings) and No. 16 (in the men's), the University of Florida has been a joint force in the ITA national rankings since head coach Bryan Shelton came on board in 2012. The women, led by Roland Thornqvist, picked up back-to-back NCAA team titles in 2011 and 2012, and won their seventh ITA National Team Indoor Championship earlier this year.
Currently ranked No. 10 in the National Collegiate ITA rankings, sophomore Alfredo Perez has already solidified his place in the Gator record books during his first season playing for the University of Florida.
As a freshman in the spring of 2016, he was the first Gator since 2011 to win 20 dual singles matches in one season and tied Alexandre Lacroix for the sixth all-time spot with 36 singles victories in one season.
Last year, Perez was awarded the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and the ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year awards.
One of the best women's collegiate player in the country, Brooke Austin has been nationally ranked inside the Top 5 of both singles and doubles.
In 2016, she was named the ITA National & Southeast Region Player to Watch, and lived up to that title by winning the NCAA Doubles championship (with Kourtney Keegan). She was also named the SEC Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
Austin also got a taste of the big stage when the NCAA title earned her a doubles wildcard into the main draw of 2016 US Open. She and Keegan lost to Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend in the first round, 6-2, 6-2.
Bryan Shelton brings a ton of experience to the court, having spent nine seasons on the ATP tour (and winning two singles titles as well as two doubles titles). He reached a career-high ranking of No. 55 in the world and was an All-American at his Alma-mater, Georgia Tech (where he would return to coach the women's team).
Since joining the Gators as the men's head coach in 2012, he has led the team to a 67-37 winning record across four seasons.
The women's team has accomplished plenty under the tutelage of long-time coach Roland Thornqvist. Since 2002, he has led the women to multiple championship titles, and has also received numerous coaching awards, including the 2011 ITA National Coach of the Year, 2010 & 2012 ITA Southeast Region Coach of the Year, and five SEC Coach of the Year awards.
In 2005, the men reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championships and reached the quarterfinals last year. The program has produced three NCAA singles champions and finished first in the SEC eight times (most recently in 2005).
The Gator women have accumulated 20 SEC tournament titles, six NCAA team titles and seven NCAA indoor team titles.
The Gators are ranked No. 1, having won the ITA National Team Indoor Championships last month.