James O'Quinn went to the ground in agony, the cramps getting worse as he tried to fight through the pain.
With the two doubles pairings taking rare losses, O'Quinn and the other two singles players on the Aquinas boys team had to win.
O'Quinn played through the pain and even won a set in the No. 3 singles match, but Denton Boone's defeat in No. 2 singles clinched Pace Academy's 3-0 win in the quarterfinals of Class A state tournament Monday at The Club at Raes Creek.
"They played so well this year, and they gave it their all," Aquinas coach Karen Hayes said. "It's just disappointing. But they know they did good."
With No. 1 doubles pairing John Ingram and Andrew May and No. 2 doubles pairing Chris Pak and Sadler Quarles each losing in two sets, the Fighting Irish needed victories in all three singles matches to advance.
Earlier, Collin O'Quinn, Aquinas' No. 1 singles player, and Boone won their first sets thanks to winning early break points.
Collin O'Quinn won 6-1 in his first set, using powerful serves and good ball placement and getting help from unforced errors from Steven Zeldin.
Boone used his speed to cover the court and won some long rallies to take the first set 6-3 before Jeffrey Sureck turned things around, returning the 6-3 score in the second set.
James O'Quinn was up 5-2 in the opening set of his No. 3 singles match but lost the final five games to go down 7-5.
He then had to fight through cramps that started in his lower right leg but soon extended into his left leg. He tried to combat the injuries with stretches, though he said he wanted to cry because of the pain.
Despite some limping, he rallied, yelling and pumping his fists after winning points. People started making their way to his match, with James O'Quinn knowing he needed a third set to keep his team in contention.
"It was really helpful," he said of the fan support. "It was adrenaline every point."
He eventually forced a second-set tiebreaker, which he won 7-3.
Both O'Quinns were tied in their third sets, with Collin O'Quinn at 2-2, but they stopped to watch the last few points of Boone's match. Neither O'Quinn played another point, as Aquinas' comeback fell short with Sureck finishing strongly.
In the third set, Sureck won one point by bouncing the ball over Boone's head and another with a smash to close a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win.
"I knew they were tough," said a complimentary Pace Academy coach Neil DeRosa, who said coming in that he thought his team was clearly better. "They fought and fought and fought."