AIKEN — John Boone didn’t want to go through this again, watching South Aiken end his team’s season.
After dropping the first set of his No. 1 singles match, the Aiken boys tennis player rallied to win. His victory helped the Hornets capture the SCHSL Class AAAA Lower State title after losing the previous year in the state quarterfinals to the rival Thoroughbreds.
By helping Aiken reach the state championship, Boone is The Augusta Chronicle’s boys tennis player of the year.
“(South Aiken) beat us last year, so we were wanting to show up, play and beat them. So I was really happy about that,” Boone said. “I was a little bit nervous. I got down a set at the beginning but I got it going and didn’t stop after that.”
Boone, who will be a senior this upcoming school year, describes himself as a counter-puncher. He likes to play out points, waiting for his opponent to mess up or get too aggressive on an attack.
Aiken coach Steve Smith, whose team was unbeaten until the loss to JL Mann in the state final, is no stranger to Boone’s comebacks. There was the time he won after battling cramps– during which Boone told his coach, “I’ve got it,” and played on – and, of course, all the matches he won after dropping the first set.
“He tends to always find a way to win,” Smith said. “Many times, he’ll start out slow in the match, but he figures out ways. He’ll have a day when he doesn’t play his best tennis, but he’ll fight through it.”
With one more year left in high school, Boone hasn’t solidified his collegiate decision just yet.
He recently toured Clemson, but he’s willing to listen to other schools.
Wherever he does wind up going, Boone will be bringing a racquet.
“I just love playing it,” Boone said. “Sometimes, if you’re playing a lot, you don’t think about it. But if I don’t play for two days, I already miss it.”