ATLANTA (August 16) — Former Georgia Tech All-America Bryan Shelton has been named head coach of the Yellow Jackets’ women’s tennis program, Tech Director of Athletics Dave Braine announced Monday.
Shelton, 33, becomes the sixth head coach in Tech women’s tennis history and returns to his alma mater after serving the past year and a half as a national coach with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Before joining the USTA coaching ranks, Shelton spent nine years on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour, winning two singles and two doubles titles before retiring after the 1997U.S. Open.
“I think it’s great that Bryan’s back,” said Tech Director of Athletics Dave Braine. “The combination of our two tennis All-Americas, Kenny Thorne and Bryan Shelton, will be great for our program.”
Shelton’s hiring reunites him with former teammate and doubles partner Kenny Thorne, who currently serves as Tech’s Director of Tennis and head men’s coach. Shelton and Thorne both lettered for the Jackets from 1985-88 and helped lead Tech to an overall 70-38 dual-match record and a 20-7 Atlantic Coast Conference mark during their four seasons. As seniors in 1988, the duo helped guide Tech to a school-record 26 wins, which included a 7-0 run through the ACC, a second-place finish in the conference tournament and Tech’s first appearance in the NCAA team championships.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about coming back to Tech,” Shelton said. “I had a great time when I was in school, and after graduation no matter where I went in the world, there were always alumni who would come up and cheer for me because of Georgia Tech. Tech is a special place, and I’m looking forward to working with Kenny and looking forward to the opportunity to work with the women’s program, which I think can be something great.”
Shelton earned all-ACC honors in each of his four seasons from 1985-88 and garnered all-America honors in 1988. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the 1988 NCAA singles tournament, falling to eventual champion Robbie Weiss, who now serves as an assistant coach with Tech’s men’s team. Shelton ranks second on the Yellow Jackets’ career singles wins list with 101 victories and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 1991, Shelton won his first tour title at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, R.I., becoming the first African-American to win an ATP event since Arthur Ashe in 1978. He repeated as singles champion at Newport in 1992. Shelton also claimed a pair of doubles titles, winning the 1994 Mexican Open with Francisco Montana and the 1997 Australian Hardcourt Championship with Patrick Rafter.
A six-time participant at Wimbledon, Shelton defeated second-seeded Michael Stich in the first round in 1994 en route to a berth in the quarterfinals. Shelton climbed as high as 55 in the ATP singles rankings and also played in seven U.S. Opens, six Australian Opens and four French Opens. He also posted victories against the likes of Andre Agassi, Thomas Muster, Richard Krajicek and Todd Martin.
After retiring from the tour, Shelton coached MaliVai Washington, a 1996 Wimbledon finalist, until being named a USTA National Coach. With USTA, Shelton assisted with the development of some of the top junior girls and boys prospects in the Southeast, covering North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Born in Huntsville, Ala., Shelton now resides in Atlanta. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1989. He is engaged to be married to Lisa Witsken on Oct. 30,1999.