The tennis torch is still burning at Porter-Gaud, thanks in part to a decision Thomas Spratt made five years ago to turn his focus from basketball to tennis.
Three state championships later, the Porter-Gaud graduate has no regrets.
“I’ve had a great time. I’m really glad I decided to play (high school tennis),” he said.
Spratt was named The Post and Courier’s Lowcountry high school boys tennis player of the year for the second straight year after leading the Cyclones to back-to-back SCISA Class AAA state titles. He heads the All-Lowcounty team that also includes Porter-Gaud senior Payne Hoy, junior Seth Pinosky and seventh-grader Brant Fenno. Senior Zac Dye of Berkeley and Bishop England junior Lukas Zalesky round out the team. Spratt was selected for the fifth time; Dye is the only other repeater.
Retiring Porter-Gaud coach Tom Higgins, who directed the Cyclones to seven state titles in 11 years, repeats as coach of the year after closing out his career with an unbeaten season.
Spratt followed a line of outstanding players who helped the Cyclones make a habit of hoisting state championship trophies in May. The Cyclones have won 14 of the last 19 state titles.
Spratt first tried out for Porter-Gaud’s varsity tennis team in the seventh grade. But when an assistant coach told the team that he expected the players to be at every practice, Spratt wasn’t quite ready to make that commitment. He thought he might still want to play basketball. He left the tennis team and stayed with basketball.
“I went back out for tennis in the eighth grade … and the team went undefeated and won the state title,” said Spratt, who was one of the stars on that team.
He was sold on tennis at that point.
The Cyclones were state runners-up to Hilton Head Prep during Spratt’s freshman and sophomore years, then won state championships his junior and senior seasons.
In the process, Spratt won the SCISA Open singles title as a senior and was named SCISA player of the year.
Now, he’ll soon be off to Philadelphia to join the University of Pennsylvania tennis program. In the interim, he plans to compete in next week’s Southern Closed Championships in Mobile, Ala., and in the National Hard Courts in Kalamazoo, Mich., in August.
In Mobile, Spratt will play doubles with his future college teammate, Marshall Sharp of Memphis.
“My coach (at Pennsylvania) is confident I will play doubles as a freshman, but he couldn’t promise on singles until he sees matchups with the players he already has. We have the whole singles lineup back,” Spratt said.
“I would have liked to have played basketball a little longer, but I think that would have hurt my tennis. I have been pretty happy with what tennis has given me.”