Former Falcon Heather Shelby Wins Bronze Medal at Maccabiah Games
Former Air Force Academy women's tennis player and assistant coach Heather Shelby recently won a bronze medal in the doubles competition at the 17th Maccabiah Games, also known as the Jewish Olympics. The Games, a quadrennial competition for Jewish athletes, took place this year in Jerusalem, Israel.
Shelby, a 2003 graduate of the Academy and currently a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, paired with Julia Feldman to post a 2-1 record in the open division. The duo opened the tournament with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 victory over Carly Jalloul of Great Britain and Audrey Wahl of Switzerland. They followed that with a three-set win in the quarterfinals, defeating Darja Ovsjannikova of Russia and Tsippora Malka Waterman of the Netherlands, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Their run came to an end in the semifinals, falling to Michal Amir of Israel and Jaqui Boyd of South Africa, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5. The teams that lost in the semifinals were awarded bronze medals. Amir and Boyd went on to win the gold medal with a straight-set victory in the finals.
"This was the most amazing experience of my life," said Shelby, who is currently in the MBA program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. "It was an incredible opportunity to compete at such a high level while representing the USA. The majority of the players all play full time tennis and hold WTA rankings. One of the best parts of the whole experience was being led into a sold out stadium of 40,000 fans by Mark Spitz. When they announced the United States of America as we walked in, I got the chills. We were so well received. "
Shelby also participated in the singles and mixed doubles competitions. In singles, she won three of her five matches. She defeated Reina Alexander of Great Britain, 6-0, 6-1, in the first round before falling to Efrat Mishor of Israel, 6-2, 6-1 in the round of 16. Shelby then won two matches in the consolation round before a loss to USA teammate Tamara Sutton, 8-3. In mixed doubles, she advanced to the quarterfinals with Ryan Heller after the pair defeated the tournament's No. 1 seeded team from Israel.
"Heather was probably the most improved player we had here at the Academy," said Air Force women's tennis coach Kim Gidley. "From a Southern California ranking in juniors, Heather finished with two top 100 ITA wins in singles, one of which was a player ranked in the top 50 in the world in juniors. It was great to see her hard work and dreams of competing at the international level come true by competing in the Maccabiah World Games as an Air Force Officer."