Shields dethrones Ross in men’s final at Elam Classic
Cory Ross was on the edge of setting himself apart in the Elam Classic tennis tournament history books.
The Littleton resident has dominated the Elam Classic since 2003, having won four singles titles, including the past three, as well as three doubles titles.
Sunday at Canyon View Park, Ross found himself in the final attempting to become the first player in Elam Classic history to win five overall titles, including four straight.
But unfortunately for Ross, standing in his way was a motivated Clancy Shields.
The Grand Junction resident was playing in his first Elam Classic as a professional, and ready to reap the $3,000 reward for the singles champion.
The two players put together one of the most competitive finals in recent memory, as Shields bounced back from losing the first set 6-3, to defeat Ross in the next two sets 6-2 and 7-6 (7-4).
“This week has been stressful, because I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to do well,” Shields said. “I’m playing eight tournaments this summer, and to win the first one is a great start.”
Shields took down Ross by controlling his serve and forcing Ross to play more of a net game than he’s used to.
Ross recognized the strategy, and said it worked.
“He played a lot differently than he did last year,” Ross said. “I give him credit for formulating that plan, and I knew he was going to come up with something. He was able to put me in a different situation than I’m used to, and it worked this time.”
Shields has beaten Ross the past two times the pair have met. Shields defeated Ross at last year’s Denver City Open, and said it was a mental hurdle to take down the four-time Elam winner in a tournament he’s made a home away from home.
“There is a mental thing in tennis and he’s won this tournament so much.” Shields said. “In my head, I’m thinking he’s been in the finals situation and I got nervous, because this is his tournament.”
Shields overcame the mental roadblock, but said he’s gained a lot of respect for Ross in the way he plays and carries himself.
“He played well,” Shields said. “I gained a lot of respect for who he is as a person and a player, and I realize how good he is.”
Ross goes home as a runner-up for the first time in his eight appearances. He said he felt he played well and enjoyed the competitive match.
“It was a great battle,” Ross said. “This is why we play, for matches like that, because they’re so much fun.”
As for next year, Ross said he will return, and plans to keep coming back until he doesn’t think he can win it.
With the win, Shields is the first local champion since his brother Luke won the title in 2001.
Shields wasn’t done, as he teamed with his brother Luke to win the pair’s third consecutive doubles title. Again it was Ross to get past, as the Shields brothers defeated Ross and Peter Richman 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
The Shields defeated Trent Broach and Rob Simpson 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the championship.
“We played pretty good tennis for the most part,” Luke Shields said. “I knew Clancy was tired from the earlier matches so we had to battle through the circumstances.”
Clancy said he relied on his brother’s enthusiasm.
“I expected Luke and I to be in the finals,” Clancy said. “The first two sets I was going through the motions, but Luke got fired up in the third set which got me going.”
By taking both the singles and doubles titles, Clancy becomes the 15 player all time to win both the singles and doubles championship at the Elam.