Oh, brother: Shields brothers will battle for Elam Classic title

Clancy Shields will defend his Elam Classic title today against his brother, Luke. Clancy advanced with two straight-set wins, but Luke had to win two three-set matches to advance.

Luke and Clancy Shields have spent countless hours on the tennis courts.

Today, the Grand Junction natives will play each other for the 50th annual Elam Classic singles title. The match is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Canyon View Park. If it rains, the match will be moved to the Junction Indoor Tennis Center, 535 251⁄2 Road.

“It’s good; I hoped to play my brother,” Clancy, 23, said. “It’s great coming back home seeing all my friends and family. Last week, I felt like it would be OK if I lost (in San Francisco), but here I want to win this tournament in front of my friends and family. It’s an unrelenting effort to give up. I’ve been competing harder here.”

The brothers, who hope to coach a college tennis program in the near future, are each going for their second Elam Classic title. Luke won the tournament in 2001 at the age of 16. Clancy won it for the first time last year.

Luke, seeded fifth, had to knock off the No. 1 and 4 seeds Saturday to make the final and needed three sets both times. The tournament was moved to the Tennis Center because of the inclement weather.

Luke Shields defeated fourth-seeded Phillip Eilers, a former No. 1 singles player for the University of Utah, in the quarterfinals, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, 6-2. A few hours later, he defeated top seed Cory Ross 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in the semifinals. Ross is a four-time Elam Classic champion.

“I was pretty lucky in the sense of the weather because I had a tough match this morning with the guy from Utah, he’s a really good player,” Luke said. “I’m lucky we played indoors because the court is faster (than the outdoor courts). I had to keep the points fast. It would’ve been difficult, because the points would’ve been longer. I don’t know if my body would’ve held up.

“You have to (keep points short) when it’s a fast court like this. You have to attack more with serve and volley. I tried to make the points as short as possible. In order to conserve energy, you have to make the points as short as possible.”

Clancy and Luke are really happy to be playing against each other for the $3,000 singles title today and hope to team up for a doubles title later in the day.

Clancy, the No. 2 seed, made relatively quick work of No. 7 seed Chris Letcher of Goldcoast, Australia, 6-2, 6-2, then hung on to defeat No. 3 seed Oren Motevassel 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals.

“I was expecting (Motevassel) to push me back (in a groundstroke rally),” Clancy said. “Early on, I was getting a lot of short balls. I was like, ‘Wow, he’s really not hurting me.’ I jumped out 6-1, 3-0 and thought this was in the bag and started losing my focus. I started playing tighter and making more mistakes and he came back.

“I felt like I was in control until the last few games. I was able to pull back and was happy with that.”



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