Af­ter sev­eral close calls, AC Flora girls ten­nis wins elu­sive state ti­tle

The State (Sunday) - - High Schools - BY CHRIS DEARING

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 ing,” 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 starta.c. 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.

RE­SULTS

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.

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