MASON — Pierce Elliott said his historic run to the Division II state tennis tournament hasn’t sunk in yet.
The Preble Shawnee junior is the first player ever from Preble Shawnee and Preble County to qualify for the state tournament and he made the most the opportunity.
The 100th Annual Boys State Tennis Tournament was held on Friday and Saturday, May 24-25 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Elliott, who entered the state tournament 25-0, reached the semifinals before dropping a gruelling two-and-a-half hour, three set match, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, to eventual state champion Andrew Zimcosky of Chargrin Falls.
Elliott received walkover in his next match to earn third place.
“It’s probably still sinking in. I haven’t really thought about it yet,” Elliott said. “I’m still coming down from how hot it was. It’s pretty cool. The whole experience is really amazing. It’s pretty crazy.”
Elliott, a three-time district qualifier said he likes playing at the Linder Family Tennis Center.
“I loved playing here ever since I came here for districts my freshman year. The atmosphere is crazy. It was really fun,” he said. “I wished to try and do a little bit better. Today, he was the better player. I’m going to work hard and see what I can do next year.”
In the fist set, Elliott trailed 4-1, before rallying for the win.
“He’s a great player. He’s got a pretty good all around game. Very, very solid,” Elliott said of Zimcosky. “It was a rough match from the beginning. I pulled out that first set down 1-4 and was able to win it 6-4. In the second set I probably didn’t play as tough as maybe I needed to. Had I played a little bit tougher, maybe put a little bit more pressure on him maybe I would have been able to pull that out. Third set was kind of back and forth.”
Shawnee coach Kevin Montgomery, who was the last player to reach the district level in 1987, said Elliott is easy to root for.
“It’s really rewarding. I didn’t think I would be as supportive of him as I am. But all it took was for more me to see how focused he was and what a good kid he was. It’s so easy to root for him,” he said. “I’m his biggest fan. I’m confident he can get back here next year and win the whole thing. There’s no one here that had a better game than he did. It was just a couple of points here and there. I’m thoroughly impressed with him.”
Montgomery said every match Elliott played from the district on has been a first for the player and the school.
“Every match that he’s had since districts has been a first for the school and for himself. Playing at the state level and getting third our of all the Division II players is just incredible,” he said. “He lost one match all year. He dropped just four sets all year. I don’t know what else to say. He’s a great kid. He’s a competitor.”
Montgomery said Elliott was just a few plays away from being the state champion.
“The kid he played today, the kid was just dynamite. He was a solid player and he had poise. He was smart player,” Montgomery said. “Pierce played a great match. It was just a few points here and there that separated him from winning and losing. A couple of points and that thing is totally different. It’s encouraging knowing he was just a few points away from winning a state title.”
In his first match on Friday, Elliott defeated Noah Brown of Bellville Clear Fork 6-3, 6-0. In his quarterfinal match, he knocked off Drew Haffer of Gahanna Columbus Academy 6-1, 7-6.
Elliott, who finished the season 28-1, said he appreciated the support from the community, which included several classmates who made the trip to Mason to watch, and thanked his parents, coaches for their support as well.
“That was fun,” he said of seeing his classmates. “It was nice. I enjoyed them coming and watching. I thought that was really cool to have them there.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH