Shields brothers prepared for Elam Classic
Clancy Shields does things the right way.
The Grand Junction native recently completed his final year of college tennis at Boise State University, where he helped lead the Broncos from a team with only one returning starter (Shields) to a team that finished in the round of 16 at the NCAA championships.
For that, Shields received the ITA/Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s longest-running award.
“I was surprised when I won it,” Shields said. “I think it showed what type of character I have, to be the only returning starter on our team and help lead us to the round of 16. That means a lot to me and shows what I did for the team.”
Shields was also selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District At-Large First-Team for his 3.93 GPA in kinesiology.
Shields received plenty of awards for what he did on the court as well. He was the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and made the all-conference team and all-tournament team.
“Academics and athletics go hand in hand,” Shields said. “It doesn’t matter how talented you are, it’s more about how much you put into it.”
Shields will showcase his work ethic this weekend in the 49th annual Elam Classic, which begins Friday at Canyon View Park.
Shields made the semifinal round last year before losing to eventual champion Cory Ross.
Shields, along with his brother, Luke, won the doubles title.
Luke is also entered in the Elam, and for the first time, the brothers can accept any prize money they win.
“In the past, I couldn’t take the money, so I wanted to win it, but I didn’t prepare to win it,”
Clancy Shields said. “This year my brother and I have been training for it, so hopefully we see good results.”
For Clancy, the Elam will be his first competition since the NCAA tournament in late May.
The Elam is the first of seven tournaments Clancy is lined up to play this summer, but it’s also a chance to play in front of family and friends.
“The Elam is a good tournament to play, and it’s a chance to thank everyone who has helped Luke and I get where we are,” Clancy said. “It’s good to come back and showcase our tennis talent for people who got us started in tennis.”
Clancy begins his tournament at 10:15 on Friday morning against Kevin Nydam of Denver. Luke opens against Tommy Chavez of Pueblo at 8:30 a.m.
For the Shields brothers, the challenge will be dethroning Ross. The former LSU tennis player has won the tournament the past three years and four years overall.
Ross is attempting to become the first five-time Elam Classic champion and the first to win four singles titles in a row.
Ross has also won three doubles titles, including 2006, when he teamed with Peter Richman.
After not playing doubles last year, Ross and Richman are back as a doubles team.
All doubles play begins Saturday.
In the singles draw, Ross plays Isaac Brown of Grand Junction on Friday morning.
Other interesting names that pepper the draw are a couple of local players who had success on the statewide level, beginning with Fruita’s Richard Johnson.
The Fruita Monument graduate won the 2002 and 2003 state titles at No. 1 singles and was a part of the Pepperdine University team that won the national championship in 2006.
Jordan Bridge won the 2006 state title at No. 1 singles as a member of the Grand Junction High School tennis team, but moved to California after that school year. Friday, Bridge faces
Akim Malik of Denver.
“It’s a stronger field than it has been in the past,” Clancy Shields said.
A new twist to the tournament is the Elam Family tournament, with draws in the father/son, father/daugther, mother/son and mother/daughter divisions. Play in the family events begins Friday.