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Horton earns all-state honors with top-5 finish

Posted: May 20, 2016 9:15 a.m.
Updated: May 20, 2016 9:12 a.m.
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HUNTER HORTON

A year away from high school tennis did little to hurt Hunter Horton’s game.

On Tuesday, the Lugoff-Elgin senior earned all-state honors for the second time in three seasons by finishing fifth in the state singles tournament with a 6-1 record in the event.

The two-day tourney featured 32 of the top players from the state.

Horton, a Coker College signee, was the automatic qualifier Region 4-AAA after having completed an unbeaten final high school campaign.

Horton got off to a quick start in the tournament by overpowering young Jordan Britt from Wren by a pair of 6-0 scores.

Horton faced a familiar foe in Preston Tiffany from South Aiken in round two. The two players are good friends and have traveled and played many other tournaments together both as opponents and doubles partners. The first match went down the wire as the two players exchanged breaks of serves with Horton eventually gaining the upper hand to take the set, 7-5. Things were not as close in the second with Horton breezing to the 6-2 victory.

After a lunch break, Horton took on third seed Bryce Keim from Spartanburg High.

“Even though it was not that hot, both players seemed to be feeling the heat and stress of the day by this third match of the day,” said L-E head coach Edward Rickwood.

In the end, Keim sent a series of punishing serves and ground strokes at Horton to come away with a 6-1, 6-2 victory sending the soon-to-be L-E graduate into the consolation bracket.

Tuesday’s play was interrupted by rain as the matches were played as eight-game pro-sets.

With storm clouds looming, Horton disposed of Dreher’s Evan Hanner, 8-0, in his first pairing of the day.

Horton found himself involved in a rematch from Monday in the consolation semifinals in which he took on Tiffany. Neither player could hold serve at first before Horton took a 6-4 lead. In the 11th game, Tiffany became upset about a poor shot he had just hit long and wound up trying to slap the ball into a nearby fence. 

“Unfortunately,” Rickwood said, “he really connected with the ball and accidentally sent it flying across several courts. An on-site official saw the ball and called a foul resulting in a point penalty.  Even more unfortunate was that it occurred at deuce. This point violation resulted in a loss of a game as well.  Despite both players’ protest of the penalty, the call stood and Horton was awarded a 7-4 lead.

“Both players were apologetic to each other as Hunter then served it out for an 8-4 win.”

Horton concluded his stay in the tournament by taking down the tournament’s second seed,  Spartanburg’s Omar Williams, 8-2.

“As the last match of the day, as a last match of this high school tennis season and as a match against a worthy opponent, Hunter saved his best tennis for last,” Rickwood said. “It was pretty much all offense as Hunter blasted ground strokes and nailed aces past his opponent to take the match.”

 

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