2017-05-19 / Sports

Falcons fall in finale

Story and Photos by Mike Maddock

The A.C. Flora Falcons, 2017 Class 4A Boys Tennis Lower State Champions and State Runner-Up: (l-r) Front—Scott Mitcham, Griffin Rentz, Michael Davis, William Overdyke, Hayes Pruitt, Zach Kirkland, and Charlie Carson; Back—Principal Richard McClure, Head Coach Amy Martin, Athletic Director Ed Moore, Lukas McClamrock, Alex Echols, Robert Echols, Hal Fant, Hampton Williams, Talley Moorman, and Assistant Coach Ryan Lail.
The A.C. Flora Falcons, 2017 Class 4A Boys Tennis Lower State Champions and State Runner-Up: (l-r) Front—Scott Mitcham, Griffin Rentz, Michael Davis, William Overdyke, Hayes Pruitt, Zach Kirkland, and Charlie Carson; Back—Principal Richard McClure, Head Coach Amy Martin, Athletic Director Ed Moore, Lukas McClamrock, Alex Echols, Robert Echols, Hal Fant, Hampton Williams, Talley Moorman, and Assistant Coach Ryan Lail. A.C. Flora’s Michael Davis lunges for a forehand return in his No. 5 singles match against South Aiken’s Christian Rogerson.A.C. Flora’s Michael Davis lunges for a forehand return in his No. 5 singles match against South Aiken’s Christian Rogerson.

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The Brothers Sklizovic (Alex and Aaron) proved to be the difference in the South Aiken Thoroughbreds’ 4-3 win over the A.C. Flora Falcons in the Class 4A boys’ 

tennis state championship match held at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center Wednesday, May 17.

Alex defeated A.C. Flora’s Lukas McClamrock 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles; and Aaron was able to outlast Zach Kirkland 6-3, 7-5 at No. 2 singles. The Sklizovics then teamed together at No. 1 doubles to beat McClamrock and Kirkland 6-0, 6-4.

“The brothers proved to be a dynamic duo,” A.C. Flora head coach Amy Martin said. “Alex had just won the state singles tournament the day earlier. As brothers, it usually gives you an edge, since they have probably been playing and practicing together for years now.”

A.C. Flora’s Alex Echols rips a forehand in his No. 4 singles match against South Aiken’s Pate Rowan.A.C. Flora’s Alex Echols rips a forehand in his No. 4 singles match against South Aiken’s Pate Rowan.

McClamrock and Kirkland didn’t go down without a fight.

Kirkland was on the brink of taking the second set in his singles match after he lunged for a volley and popped a lob over Aaron to take a 5-4 lead, but Sklizovic took the next three games and the set.

“Zach always gives 110 percent and never gives up, but it’s never about Zach; he wants the best for his team,” Martin said.

In doubles, McClamrock and Kirkland fought back to lead 4-3 in the second set. McClamrock was also fighting leg cramps.


“Lukas has never backed off the pressure, and he always does what is best for his team,” Martin said. “When I started with the varsity boys in 2014, he played No. 2 and has been at the top spot for the past three years. The No. 1 spot can be a tough one, but he never complains, never gives excuses, and always puts the team first.”

The brothers took the next three games to give South Aiken a 4-2 overall lead in the match and the state title.

A.C. Flora’s Robert  Echols leaps for a backhand volley as he and partner Talley Moorman take on South Aiken’s  No. 2 doubles team of Sebastian Rogerson and Ethan Ploeger.A.C. Flora’s Robert Echols leaps for a backhand volley as he and partner Talley Moorman take on South Aiken’s No. 2 doubles team of Sebastian Rogerson and Ethan Ploeger.

South Aiken’s other win came at No. 3 singles where Thane Tiffany beat Hal Fant 6-0, 6-3. 

Fant, like McClamrock, has been on the A.C. Flora ladder since 2014, when the string of four straight appearances in the title match began, and he was an integral part of the team that won it all in 2015.

While Wednesday was not his day, Martin said, “Hal is fiercely loyal to his team and fights ’til the end. When Hal is in Hal’s ‘zone,’ watch out!”

Eighth grader Michael Davis won his match for the Falcons at No. 5 singles 6-3, 6-1 downing South Aiken’s Christian Rogerson.

“Michael may be the youngest, but that doesn’t matter,” Martin said. “He gets the job done and is a huge part of the future of Falcon Tennis.”

The longest and most competitive match of the day was at No. 4 singles. A.C. Flora’s Alex Echols jumped out to 5-2 lead in his first set against South Aiken’s Pate Rowan but found himself tied at 5-5 before pulling out the set 7-5 with some stellar net play. Rowan battled back to take the second set 6-3, and at the time, South Aiken had taken a 3-1 lead in the overall match meaning Echols had to win a 10-point tiebreaker to keep the Falcons alive and send the overall match to doubles.

“Never, ever count him out,” Martin said of Echols. “No matter what type of opponent, Alex will find a way to pull out a W.”

Rowan jumped out to a 4-1 lead after a winner at the net, but Echols won the next four points punctuated with a lob winner. They tied at 6-6, 7-7, and 8-8, but Echols hung on to win the next two points and take the match.

The A.C. Flora No. 2 doubles team of Robert Echols and Talley Moorman raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set of their match with South Aiken’s Sebastian Rogerson and Ethan Ploeger, but the Thoroughbred duo fought back to win the set 7-5.

Echols and Moorman dominated the second set 6-1, but by then the overall match had been decided. That didn’t seem to matter as the teams went to a 10-point tiebreaker.

After a big serve from Echols, the Falcons led 3-0. A slam from Moorman gave them a 7-3 advantage, but Rogerson and Ploeger fought back to cut their deficit to 7-6.

A.C. Flora’s Lukas McClamrock hits a high bouncer in his No. 1 singles match against South Aiken’s Alex Sklizovic.A.C. Flora’s Lukas McClamrock hits a high bouncer in his No. 1 singles match against South Aiken’s Alex Sklizovic.

Echols and Moorman then took three of the next four points to secure the win.

“Robert and Talley are great doubles players and realize how important the doubles point is for the team win. They put the team first and help lead their teammates.”

In an individual sport, teamwork and sportsmanship are sources of pride for Martin.

“As I told the boys before the match, ‘each and every one of you has gotten us to where we are today. It’s not the Lukas show; it’s not the Zach show; it’s all of you who bring it to every practice, every match, every tournament, and always do whatever is asked.’  

“That is the strength of the A.C. Flora Tennis Program. Our players have raised the bar and have great accomplishments, both on and off the court.  I have had many coaches, including the coach and parents from today, express what great sports our guys are and how they have awesome attitudes.   That speaks volumes and will go farther than any award or title. Many younger players see this in the older boys and want to be a part of it. I am extremely proud to be a part of this group.”

Could the A.C. Flora be back in 2018? 

Martin loses McClamrock and Moorman, along with Hampton Williams, but Kirkland, Fant, both Echols boys, Davis, and a wealth of talent all return for next year’s campaign. So don’t be surprised if the Falcons soar once more.


Singles: Alex Sklizovic (SA) def. Lukas McClamrock (ACF 6-1, 6-1; Aaron Sklizovic (SA) def. Zach Kirkland (ACF) 6-3, 7-5; Thane Tiffany (SA) def. Hal Fant (ACF) 6-0, 6-3; Alex Echols (ACF) def. Pate Rowan (SA) 7-5, 3-6 (10-8); Michael Davis (ACF) def. Christian Rogerson (SA) 6-3, 6-1.
Doubles: Alex Sklizovic/Aaron Sklizovic (SA) def. McClamrock/Kirkland 6-0, 6-4; Talley Moorman/Robert Echols 5-7, 6-1 (10-7).

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