Four Florida collegiate coaches and five players have captured national honors in their respective divisions from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
The 2021 National Award winners, chosen from the nationwide pool of regional ITA award recipients announced earlier this month, are considered outstanding representatives of college tennis’s strong athletic tradition and commitment to excellence on and off the court.
Below are the Florida winners, separated by division.
NCAA Division I Men
Wilson ITA Coach of the Year: Bryan Shelton, University of Florida
The Wilson ITA Coach of the Year award honors a coach who has exhibited outstanding leadership in ways that contribute to on and off-court team performance. In 2021, Shelton led UF’s men’s tennis program to its first national championship in school history with a 4-1 win over Baylor at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. In addition to the NCAA title, Shelton’s 2021 squad won the SEC title and junior Sam Riffice was crowned as the NCAA Singles Champion. Shelton was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career while also picking up ITA Southeast Regional Coach of the Year accolades as his team’s 26 wins were the second-most in school history and the best mark under Shelton.
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Tanner Stump, University of Florida
The ITA Assistant Coach of the Year award honors an assistant coach who has exhibited outstanding leadership in ways that contribute to on and off-court team performance. Stump helped lead the Gators to a historic season. In addition to the program’s first-ever NCAA title, Coach Stump coached the team to the SEC regular-season title and an undefeated conference schedule. The Gators finished the season 26-2 and recorded seven 7-0 sweeps. The Gators defeated 16 top-25 teams during the 2021 season.
Your @ITA_Tennis Coach & Assistant Coach of the Year 🗣️
— Gators Men's Tennis (@GatorsMTN) June 21, 2021
NCAA Division I Women
ITA Senior Player of the Year & National Player of the Year: Estela Perez-Somarriba, University of Miami
A fifth-year senior, Perez-Somarriba went 24-3 in her final collegiate campaign, making her one of 14 players in the year-end rankings with at least 24 victories. It is the third straight time Perez-Somarriba sits atop the rankings and, by holding the top spot at the end of the season, she has clinched ITA National Player of the Year accolades. This is the fourth time in the last 16 full seasons a Hurricane has placed first in the final rankings.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive these prestigious awards. It means a great deal to join the select, elite Hurricanes who have preceded me in doing so,” Perez-Somarriba said. “I’m blessed to be part of this amazing program at Miami and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped push me to achieve everything I dreamed of during my career. It has been a true team effort.”
— Canes Women's Tennis (@CanesWTennis) June 21, 2021
NCAA Division II Men
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Fred Bonal, Barry University
The Barry Bucs continued to dominate Division II Men’s tennis with help from Assistant Coach Fred Bonal. The Bucs capped their undefeated season with a fifth NCAA title. Bonal is instrumental in the Bucs’ player development, recruiting, and on-court coaching duties. In addition to the NCAA title, the Bucs also won the Sunshine State Conference title this season.
ITA Most Improved Senior: Aurel Ciocanu, Saint Leo University
Ciocanu, a native of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, posted an 8-3 singles record and a 7-2 doubles record in his 2021 season. He finished the season nationally ranked by the ITA, No. 38, and was an All-Sunshine State Conference singles first-team selection as well as a second-team doubles selection.
— Saint Leo Athletics (@SaintLeoLions) June 22, 2021
NCAA Division II Women
ITA Senior Player of the Year: Berta Bonardi, University of West Florida
During her four years at West Florida, Berta Bonardi etched her name into the history books. The Argonaut senior was ranked as the No. 1 singles player in the country in three separate seasons. Bonardi won the ITA Cup Division II Singles title in back-to-back years. She is a four-time ITA All-American and a two-time Gulf South Conference Player of the Year.
𝘽𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙖 𝘽𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙞 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙨 𝙝𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣. 🏆
— UWF Tennis (@TennisUwf) June 22, 2021
ITA Most Improved Senior: Sarah Schaerer, Keiser University
Schaerer hasn’t only had extreme growth in her tennis level – it’s also been seen in her commitment to her team and its success. Schaerer is one of the first to practice and last to leave. She has been in and out of the top 25 in the singles and doubles rankings but playing on a strong team she has been lower in the lineup and never complains. She is currently ranked No. 36 in singles and No. 17 in doubles.
Wilson ITA Coach of the Year: Phil Girardi, St. Petersburg College
For the past 10 years, Coach Phil Girardi has been leading the St. Petersburg Titans to great success all while exhibiting excellent sportsmanship. This season the program finished with a 5-2 record and fourth overall in the final rankings for the NJCAA. Under the guidance of Coach Girardi, this season two Titans received ITA Singles & Doubles All-American honors.
ITA Most Improved Sophomore: Tsveti Trifonova, Eastern Florida State College
Trifonova has been playing at the top of the lineup the entire year and holds a 7-5 record in singles. She served as captain for the past two years, holding everyone accountable including the coaching staff. The greatest quality is that she competes every day on the tennis court and in the classroom.
For more information on the ITA National Awards and for a full list of award winners, please visit www.wearecollegetennis.com.