D-B proves too powerful for Lady Cyclones

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   It was a daunting task for the Elizabethton High School girls tennis team to take on Dobyns-Bennett Monday in the season opener, but the Lady Cyclones did accomplish some of the things they wanted to.
   Elizabethton lost 9-0 to the Lady Indians, but EHS head coach Danny O'Quinn used this match to improve the defending sectional champions' chances down the road.
   "I purposely scheduled them at the first of the season to see what we needed to work on, and give us some good competition before we go into our conference matches," O'Quinn said.
   The Lady Cyclones lost some key players from last year's state semifinal team, but it looks like Allison Parlier and Abby Bremer have stepped up to the fore in 2003.
   Parlier gave Dobyns-Bennett's Kayta Casper all she wanted before losing 6-4, 6-3 at the No. 3 spot. Bremer, who is playing in the top six for the first time, lost 6-2, 6-3 to Emily Stevens at the No. 4 slot.
   Both players then combined to play well in doubles before falling 8-5 to Casper and Stevens.
   "Even though they lost they both played good," O'Quinn said. "Those two and Amanda Pike's were the closest matches we had. I definitely saw some positive things in Allison and some positive things in Abby. They played better than I expected them to today."
   Parlier has a lot of confidence right now after she clinched the Lady Cyclones' berth in the state tournament last year.
   "It's making me play a lot harder, and it's given me more momentum to just keep going and not to give up," Parlier said.
   Parlier believes she can improve on some things, but sees only good times ahead this year.
   "I need to work on my game more," she said. "I'm having trouble right now hitting, but I just need to get back into the swing of things. I think I will do fine."
   Bremer has improved dramatically since last year, and there might be a reason for that.
   Bremer feels that being on the team, but not getting to go to the state tournament, has motivated her to do well this year.
   "I would've loved to have gone with them," Bremer said. "I love to contribute to the team, so it made me want to improve."
   Going up against a team that is among the top local Class AAA circles was a challenge that Bremer met head on.
   Bremer feels the team will only get better now that it has played the Lady Indians.
   "It's a great learning experience," Bremer said. "It's really nice to play somebody better than you, because that's the only way you can learn."
   It was also a respectable showing for Pike. The sophomore lost 6-3, 7-5 to Elizabeth Snead, but was playing very well at the end of the match.
   "The first set I think it was just nerves since I haven't played an actual team match in a long time," Pike said. "In my second set, I thought I was doing pretty good. I knew what I was supposed to do, and I went out there and did it, but I just couldn't hold on to it. I couldn't finish it off, and I should have.
   Pike's brother, Virginia Intermont star Brandon Pike, always had to go up against the elite players in the area when he played at Elizabethton in the late 1990s.
   The younger Pike was glad it was finally her turn to go up against one of the top schools in Northeast Tennessee.
   "I'm really glad we got to play them," she said. "This was really good practice for us. I think it will help us a lot in conference."
   While the Lady Cyclones lost on Monday, they still have high goals for the season.
   Bremer's not going to let the defeat get her down.
   "We've got a good team this year," she said.
   Elizabethton's boys and girls teams will be in action today if the rain stays away against Watauga Conference foe Volunteer.