A.C. Flora head boys and girls tennis coach Amy Martin has had teams in the finals before, ten times to be exact, but when the Falcons’ No. 1, Michael Davis, took his match in a tiebreaker, securing A.C. Flora’s second boys’ tennis state championship since 2015, Martin was a bit overcome with emotion.
“I think it’s because there are seven seniors on this team, and most of them have been with me for five years now—some of them four—but it was just the perfect swan song for this group,” Martin said. “Having seniors go out this way…it got to me.”
The Falcons defeated the Beaufort Eagles 4-2 at the Florence Tennis Center Saturday, May 15 to finish with a perfect 22- 0 record and take this year’s Class 4A State Championship.
Davis had to come back from a set down and then win a 10- point tiebreaker against a very talented seventh grader in Beaufort’s Graeme Angus.
“When Michael was going into that tiebreaker, I just knew—I hoped and prayed—his experience would pay off because his opponent will be back… again…and again,” Martin said.
How did the Falcons get to the drama that unfolded on the No. 1 court?
A.C. Flora No. 2 Rick Hewitt was able to down Beaufort’s Tucker Martin 6- 1, 6-1. Hewitt dominated the match and won the final point with a hard forehand Martin returned long.
Beaufort tied the overall match score 1-1 when Griffin Stone beat Flora No. 5 Lucas Jeffords 6- 4, 6-2. Stone finished the match at the net when he forced a lob from Jeffords that soared long.
William Overdyke then gave the Falcons a 2- 1 lead beating Beaufort No. 3 Diego Alvarez 6-3, 6- 4. Overdyke won with a forehand passing shot down the line.
The No. 2 doubles team of Myers Murphy and Ethan Johnson gave A.C. Flora a 3-1 lead after defeating Beaufort’s Joseph Combs and Witt Compton 7-6, 6-3. Murphy and Johnson came back from a 5-6 deficit in the first set to win a tiebreaker, and then Johnson’s deep volley forced a return that went long to give them the match.
Beaufort No. 4 Bodie Daniel then took a tough one from Calhoun McCullough 7-5, 6-4 to cut the Falcon lead to 3-2 and set the table for the dramatic conclusion on Court 1.
Graeme had jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set and eventually took it 6- 3. Davis then built a 5-2 lead in the second and went on to win 6- 3 and force the 10-point tiebreaker.
Davis was initially unaware of the significance of this moment.
“ To be honest, I wasn’t sure of the overall score at first when we went to the tiebreaker. I asked my coach. She was like, ‘Yeah, we’re up 3-2,’ and I was like ‘Oh, I better win now,’ so it definitely was exciting to be able to finish it like that.”
Davis fell behind 3-1 to start the tiebreaker, but his experience and patience paid off as he took nine of the next 11 points largely playing “backboard” tennis to force Graeme to go for winners and make mistakes.
When Davis was asked if he wanted to be the last one on the court and have the match in his hands, he responded with total respect for his opponent.
“He made me have to be the last one on the court the way he was battling, so it was a tough match for sure. He gave me all he had.”
Singles: Michael Davis (ACF) def. Graeme Angus (B) 3-6, 6-3 (10-5); Rick Hewitt (ACF) def. Tucker Martin (B) 6-1, 6-1; William Overdyke (ACF) def. Diego Alvarez (B) 6-3, 6-4; Bodie Daniel (B) def. Calhoun McCullough (ACF) 7-5, 6-4; Griffin Stone (B) def. Lucas Jeffords (ACF) 6-4, 6-2. Doubles: Ethan Johnson/ Myers Murphy (ACF) def. Joseph Combs/Witt Compton (B) 7-6, 6-3.