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Former USC Men’s Tennis Player Gil Shea, Ranked In U.S. Top 10 In 1950s, Dies At 92

Feb 2, 2021

LOS ANGELES — Gil Shea Jr., a Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Famer who played on three USC men's tennis teams that finished in the national Top 4 and then was among the Top 10 players in the United States, died on Dec. 23, 2020, of natural causes in Pacific Palisades (Calif.). He was 92. 

A product of Los Angeles High School, Shea lettered at USC in 1948, 1950 and 1953, with service in the Army during the Korean War interrupting his collegiate career.  The Trojans finished tied for third at the 1948 NCAA championship, tied for second in 1950 and fourth in 1953. 

After USC, Shea was ranked in the national Top 10 from 1954 to 1957, including fourth in 1957, and played on the 1954 U.S. Davis Cup team.  He competed in all four Grand Slam events in the 1950s, advancing to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon in 1954 and 1955 and at the U.S. Open in 1956 and to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 1956. 

Shea retired from tennis in 1959 and worked at various brokerage firms. He was inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Shea is survived by his wife of 59 years, Claire, his five children—Mollie Dietsch (John), Gilbert 'Gibby' Shea III (Ann), Jennifer 'Jennie' Swan (Sam), Elizabeth 'Betsy' Ripaldi (Jeff) and Michael Shea (Jordan)—along with 16 grandchildren and three of his siblings, John Shea (Dorothy), Maureen Robinson (Phil) and Mollie O'Melveny (Stuart, deceased).  He was predeceased by his sister, Susie Hanrahan (Bud). 

A private service was held.  Donations can be made to The Gil Shea Memorial Fund at Corpus Christi Church (887 Toyopa Dr., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272).