Everyone knew it had to end one day. Palmetto Christian couldn't continue endlessly adding to its string of 11 consecutive SCISA Class A boys and girls state tennis titles.
That day came Tuesday at the Houndslake Country Club in Aiken as Aiken Prep completely dominated the Eagles, 8-1, to close out a perfect season. The PCA boys were seeking their sixth straight state title to match the sixth consecutive one that the girls team won in the fall.
"This breaks our string, but we knew it had to end sooner or later," Palmetto Christian coach Dewey Caulder said. "We just have to start a new one."
The Eagles program has the youth to start a new streak. Their starting cast was even younger than Aiken Prep's, with two sixth-graders, two eighth-graders, a freshman and a junior.
Palmetto Christian's lone victory came at No. 1 singles where freshman Austin Heinz cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Wofford-bound Aiken Prep senior George Handy. Otherwise, the Eagles amassed a total of only eight games in the other five singles matches against a group of mostly young Knights, including a sixth-grader, a seventh-grader and a freshman.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," veteran Aiken Prep coach Lynn Carter said. "But it was our turn to win the state. They had beaten us four or five times in the final."
Carter couldn't have been too surprised about her 9-0 team. The Knights defeated the Eagles by the same score during the regular season on Daniel Island.
"They're good . . . tournament players. They were a little more talented," Caulder said about Aiken Prep. "Our kids knew it would be tougher this time. But now our kids know what it's like on the other side."
AIKEN PREP 8, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 1
Singles: Austin Heinz (PC) def. George Handy, 6-1, 6-2; Jesse Morton (AP) def. Billy Perkins, 6-2, 6-1; Preston Tiffany (AP) def. Aaron Thornton, 6-0, 6-0; Alex Sklizovic (AP) def. Trey Goolsby, 6-0, 6-0; Nikki Fischbach (AP) def. Brian Privett, 6-1, 6-2; Christian Thorndike (AP) def. Chase Shimakonis, 6-2, 6-0.
Doubles: Handy/Morton (AP) def. Heinz/Perkins, 8-2; Tiffany/Sklizovic (AP) def. Thornton/Goolsby, 8-3; Carlton Norwood/Zack Harrington (AP) def. Privett/Jake Adams, 8-3.