CAYCE, S.C. — South Aiken freshman Preston Tiffany got the rush of his life after fighting through to a third-set victory on the No. 3 singles court of the Class AAAA state tennis championship.
Tiffany battled back from a first-set loss to win 6-7, 6-4 (10-5) and fell to the court after the winning point, which sealed the title for his South Aiken Thoroughbreds in a 4-2 victory over the Dorman Cavaliers on Saturday.
Teammates rushed the court to celebrate with their youngest starter – the last man standing in a long match in which the Thoroughbreds needed two such rallies to survive.
On the No. 4 singles court, Petar Zotovic also won in a tie-break set, after surrendering a first-set lead to Dorman’s Barrett Hardy. Zotovic won his tie-break 10-8.
South Aiken coach Rakesh Jasani was near trembling with excitement as the Thoroughbreds (19-1) awaited their trophy.
“I truly believed,” Jasani said. “There was no doubt they were going to find away.
“Man, these guys showed some guts today. I’m shook up.”
The Cavaliers had an advantage at first, with Wood Benton and Patrick Tobacco winning on the No. 1 and No. 2 courts in straight sets.
But South Aiken’s No. 5 singles Jonny Bowman and the Thoroughbreds’ No. 2 doubles team of Marko Zotovic and Matthew Willis came up with big wins that tied the match and left Petar Zotovic and Tiffany with a chance to put it away.
Dorman coach Sammie Napier hoped his team could take one of the courts to get Benton and Tobacco back on the court for No. 1 doubles to decide the match.
“That was the whole focus for us, trying to get to No. 1 doubles. And for them, they were trying to avoid it. We felt like we would have won it then,” Napier said.
He was pleased with his players’ efforts in those final matches, though the Cavaliers did not get the finish they wanted.
“Our goal was state championship, and we’re one step short,” said Napier, whose squad finishes 20-2 after a postseason that featured three top-rated opponents.
“Hats off to them,” Jasani said of the Cavaliers. “They played a great match and they played with class. It could have gone either way. Three or four points decided the match and that’s the way it should be in the championship.”