Brothers Alex and Aaron Sklizovic teamed to bring a boys tennis state championship back to South Aiken. The duo claimed three of the four points for the Thoroughbreds in a 4-3 victory Wednesday against A.C. Flora at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.
Alex Sklizovic, the state individual champion, easily won at No. 1, while Aaron Sklizovic won at No. 2 singles before they teamed to win the decisive point at No. 1 doubles with a 6-0, 6-4 victory.
South Aiken lost in the Class 4A finals the past three years to Spartanburg. They last won a boys tennis title in 2013.
“It all hasn’t really set in,” South Aiken coach Rakesh Jasani said. “We’ve been here five straight years, and these kids keep bouncing back after suffering three straight losses. We felt we could get back here. We know the feeling leaving this park disappointed, but the kids fought today. I couldn’t be more proud.”
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A.C. Flora was also making its fourth straight trip to the finals. The Falcons lost in 2014, won it all in 2015 and lost last season – all in Class 3A. After moving up because of the South Carolina High School League realignment, they came up just short again.
Coach Amy Martin couldn’t fault the effort.
“I’m very proud of these boys. To get this far and lose 4-3 is nothing to be ashamed of,” Martin said. “We had a taste of winning it all two years ago, and you always want to get back to that, but we came up just a little short today.”
South Aiken led 3-2 after the five singles matches. Thane Tiffany won at No. 3 singles to join the Sklizovic brothers. A.C. Flora got wins from Alex Nichols and Michael Davis at No. 4 and 5 singles, respectively, to extend the match to doubles.
Nichols was the final singles match and knew he needed to win to keep the match alive. He rallied from a set down to win 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in the tiebreaker.
But it wasn’t enough to hold off the Thoroughbreds.
“We lost to a great team today,” Martin said. “Being here four years in a row shows the kids have raised the bar, not me. The pressure is on them to keep it there, but with only three seniors and a number of young ones coming along, I don’t see why we couldn’t continue that.”
South Aiken 4, A.C. Flora 3
Singles: Alex Sklizovic (SA) d. Lucas McClamrock 6-1, 6-1; Aaron Sklizovic (SA) d. Zach Kirkland 6-3, 7-5; Thane Tiffany (SA) d. Hal Fant 6-0, 6-3; Alex Echols (ACF) d. Pate Rowan 5-7, 6-3, 10-8; Michael Davis (ACF) d. Christian Rogerson 6-3, 6-1. Doubles: Sklizovic/Sklizovic (SA) d. McClamrock/Kirkland 6-0, 6-4; Talley Moorman/Robert Echols (ACF) d. Sebastian Rogerson/Ethan Ploeger 5-7, 6-1, 10-7