Cyclones look to repeat last year's success

By Matt Hill

   Coming off one of its most successful seasons in quite sometime, the Elizabethton High tennis team believes it can be at the top of the Watauga Conference again this year.
   The Cyclone girls team went to the state semifinals, and sent a group to the state doubles competition, while the boys squad managed to share the regular season championship with Sullivan Central.
   Both squads lost key contributors off those teams, but EHS head coach Danny O'Quinn remains optimistic.
   "I think we'll have a real good shot at repeating a lot of the things that we did last year," O'Quinn said. "We lost key players on both the guys and the girls teams. We've got some good, strong upcoming freshmen that are going to do a good job of filling the shoes that we lost. I guess time will tell, but I think we'll have another good year."
   The doubles team that went to the state happened to be Amanda Pike and Liz Dove, and both players are back this year.
   Pike and Dove form probably the most potent one-two punch in the conference. Last year Pike played No. 1 as a freshman, while Dove played No. 2.
   "I expect that they'll be playing No. 1 and No. 2 again this year," O'Quinn said. "I don't know what order yet. Liz has improved a lot. I feel confident with them coming back."
   Allison Parlier, who clinched the team's state tournament berth last year, will play No. 3. Abby Bremer will handle the fourth spot.
   O'Quinn is pretty excited about Bremer's progress.
   "She has improved tremendously over this year," he said.
   Four freshmen have come onto the team for the Lady Cyclones, and they will battle it out for the final four spots.
   "It's probably going to be a toss-up," O'Quinn said. "I don't know exactly who it will be yet."
   The Cyclone boys team also looks to be strong at the top, led by an experienced senior and one of the most talented freshmen to come to EHS in several years.
   David Reece is coming off a District championship in doubles with the now departed Weston Peters, but looks to be an even stronger player than he was a year ago.
   The freshman is Curtis Brumit, who has played the local junior circuit for several summers.
   O'Quinn feels pretty good about his top two players.
   "With David being a senior, I'm expecting senior leadership from him this year," O'Quinn said. "And Curtis is just a freshman, but can hit the ball tremendously. They'll probably be one and two, and again I don't know what order that will be. We may switch it up through the season."
   Also returning to Cyclone lineup will be Devin Johnson and Brad Holtsclaw. Holtsclaw will join the team once basketball is over with.
   Jamis Gouge will also be in the mix, along with several freshmen.
   The weather has been a big problem for the Cyclone team this year. Until this week, the team had only been on the court once since spring practice started in the middle of February.
   But with four players taking lessons from other providers, O'Quinn thinks that will be a big advantage.
   "I know David and Curtis, and Amanda and Liz take over at country clubs, where they get to hit indoors," O'Quinn said. "I don't think it will hurt them too much. The others who don't have the luxury of playing inside, definitely they'll be a little rusty. But thank goodness it will be everybody in the same boat, not just us."
   As far as the league goes, O'Quinn sees Unicoi as the Cyclones' main competition on the boys side, with Unicoi and Volunteer being obstacles in the girls competition.
   But O'Quinn is very confident about the team's chances.
   "I'm looking for a sweep this year, both boys and girls," he said.
   The Cyclone girls open up at home March 17 against Dobyns-Bennett, while the first conference match for both teams is at home against Volunteer the next day.