A.C. Flora senior Megan Pleasant was mentally preparing herself to play No. 1 doubles with a state championship on the line, something the Falcons had never accomplished.
Thanks to a couple of late rallies though, it didn’t come to that as A.C. Flora defeated Hilton Head, 5-1, on Saturday afternoon at the Lexington County Tennis Center to clinch the Class 4A girls tennis state championship.
“Oh gosh, I don’t even know how to describe it. I broke down in tears when I realized we won. Every year, we’ve gotten close and I wanted this so bad knowing it was my last chance,” Pleasant said. “I was preparing myself that we were going to have to go to No. 1 doubles so hearing that Breland (Gann) clinched it, total happiness came over me. It means so much. Hard work usually pays off and it finally did. There’s no better feeling than having an accomplishment you’ve worked for so long and it’s finally here.”
Gann, playing No. 5 singles, was in a tiebreaker and down 8-9 but the senior knew what was riding on the outcome. She won the next three points to win 11-9 for the decisive point and set off a mini-celebration along the sidelines. She defeated Madeleine Pollitzer 6-3, 1-6, 11-9.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Gann said. “I thought I was going to pass out on the court. I knew that my court was the one that sealed it, so it was thrilling to finally get over that hump. You always hear that it’s the best feeling and finally being able to get here, it really is.”
A.C. Flora’s experience played a factor. They had gotten to the finals three times since 2012 – losing in 2012, 2015 and last year – and that disappointment was on the minds of all nine seniors on the roster. They weren’t going to be denied a fourth time.
Hilton Head had three eighth-graders in the starting lineup and didn’t have a senior on the roster.
Pleasant won at No. 2 singles easily, 6-1, 6-1, to set the tone. Elise Sandlin, Frances Smith and the No. 2 doubles team of Siona Sturgeon and Carolina Coble each pulled out wins as well.
“It feels great. I’m just really happy for the girls,” A.C. Flora coach Amy Martin said. “They came out of the gate from the first part of August and finished it up today. It’s been a sweet ride. The seniors all played last year, and they remember the feeling of leaving here and losing such a close match. They weren’t going to be denied today.”
Hilton Head’s Emily Ruckno was the lone winner for the Seahawks. She defeated Raquel Acco at No. 1 singles 1-6, 7-5, 10-8.
A.C. Flora 5, Hilton Head 1
Singles: Emily Ruckno (HH) d. Raquel Acco 1-6, 7-5, 10-8; Megan Pleasant (ACF) d. Sydney Hall 6-1, 6-1; Elise Sandlin (ACF) d. Sierra Seabra 6-1, 7-6 (8-6); Frances Smith (ACF) d. Danielle Silvan 6-4, 6-2; Breland Gann (ACF) d. Madeleine Pollitzer 6-3, 1-6, 11-9. Doubles: Siona Sturgeon/Caroline Coble (ACF) d. Stella LeMehaute/Katie Watts 6-1, 7-5.