With three tie-breaker set wins on the No. 3 and No. 4 courts, the A.C. Flora Falcons defeated Hilton Head 4-2 to claim the Class 3A boys tennis championship on Saturday at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.
Flora (15-5) swept the No. 3 through No. 5 singles and No. 2 doubles matches for the win.
“The depth of this team has been the success of this team, and they had it in their mind that they wanted revenge from last year,” A.C. Flora coach Amy Martin said.
Hilton Head had defeated the Falcons 6-0 in the 2014 finals.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“The whole year, really we’ve been disrespected and underestimated,” said A.C. Flora captain Richard Kneece, the team’s lone senior, “but we came out here today and proved who we are.”
Said Hilton Head coach Jennifer Wietekamper, “We came out confident, realizing that we had everything to lose, knowing that they were coming for the win, too.
At No. 3, Flora’s Zach Kirkland took the first set from Steven DeVinontis 6-4 but dropped the second set 3-6. In the tiebreaker, Kirkland fought through four match-points to win with a 14-12 tiebreaker win.
That left only the No. 4 court with the Falcons ahead 3-2, and Austin Powell looked to seal the victory.
“I was watching and I heard what the score was, and I knew it was 3-2 after my boy Zach put it away. Then I just wanted more than anything to win my match, and it just fell for me, thank God,” said Powell, who closed out the tiebreak set with consecutive points to win 10-4.
Powell lost the first set 6-4 but used aggressive play at the net to rally from down 3-2 in the second set to win 6-4 and force the tiebreaker.
“It does not get any closer than that,” Martin said. “We’ve been working on tiebreakers for the past six weeks, and just the momentum carrying throughout this season. They wanted it so bad, for themselves, for the school. And it just is a perfect ending.”
Hilton Head had claimed the first points, with straight-set wins on the No. 1 and No. 2 singles courts from Matthew Oliver and Will Danzell. But the Falcons would not be held down. Zachary Prince dominated at No. 5 singles, covering the whole court to claim a 6-2, 6-1 win. On the No. 2 doubles court, Kneece and Cortney Reed defeated Matthew Feldman and Alex Ittenbach 6-0, 6-1.
“It felt great to be out here again from last year’s big loss,” Powell said. “Knowing that they said we shouldn’t even come, to be out here and not even take it to (No. 1) doubles, it was a huge win and we’re too happy,”
“We felt like there was no way we were going to lose this match.”
Added Martin, “Back in the first part of February, all that we’ve had to endure and any obstacle we’ve overcome, it’s so worth it now. They saw the dream and they went after it and got it. And it’s just been amazing.”
Singles: Matthew Oliver (H) d. Lucas McClamrock 6-0, 6-1; Will Danzell (H) d. Hal Fant 6-1, 6-1; Zach Kirkland (A) d. Steven DeVinontis 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (14-12); Austin Powell (H) 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-4); Zachary Prince (A) d. Michael Oliver 6-2, 6-1. Doubles: Cortney Reed/Richard Kneece (A) d. Matthew Feldman/Alex Ittenbach 6-0, 6-1.