EHS netters bare down on Unicoi

By Matt Hill

   ERWIN -- Like a Subway Sandwiches spokesperson, the Elizabethton High School tennis team right now is in very good shape.
   The Cyclones' boys and girls tennis squads continued their quests for the Watauga Conference title with wins over the Unicoi County Blue Devils Thursday at Erwin City Park.
   The Elizabethton boys won 6-3, while the girls took a 5-4 win over the Lady Blue Devils.
   The girls team now holds a two-match lead over Unicoi County in the Watauga Conference race, while the boys squad is one match behind Sullivan Central for the top spot.
   Elizabethton head coach Danny O'Quinn believes the girls team has taken one more step in qualifying for the regional.
   "It's a huge win for us," O'Quinn said. "Things are looking really good for the girls in the conference. I think we've played everyone, and we've won all of them except Volunteer. It rained us out there. Everybody else we've beaten pretty handily. Unless something happens we're In the drivers seat in the conference. We're going to have to beat ourselves. I think we should finish on top this year."
   Elizabethton's Stephanie Schumaier, who defeated Lucy Hunigan 6-3, 6-1, said it has been a fun season for the Lady Cyclones.
   "We're having a good season," Schumaier said. "Everybody's having fun. We practice hard every day, and go out there to win every match."
   Schumaier had a game plan for Hunigan, and it worked.
   "I was just trying to get the ball back one more time, and let her make the mistake," Schumaier said.
   The Lady Cyclones also received singles wins from Hayley Shields and Allison Parlier Thursday.
   Shields defeated Kimberly Banner 6-4, 7-5, while Parlier knocked off Paula Edwards 6-3, 7-6 (8-6 in tiebreaker)
   Liz Dove teamed up with Amanda Pike for an 8-4 doubles win over Stephanie Nuss and Hunigan. Around sunset, the Lady Cyclones clinched the match when Parlier and Kaci Campbell pulled off an 8-2 triumph over Edwards and Joelle Collinger.
   Elizabethton's Amanda Pike lost her singles match, but it was one she could be very proud of.
   Pike gave two-time District 1-AA champion Amber Campbell all she wanted before falling 7-6 (7-5) 6-1.
   Pike, a freshman who has taken local tennis by storm this year, was ahead 6-5 and 40-love in the first set before Campbell rallied back.
   "She was very consistent in that first set," Campbell said. "She was making sure that she wasn't going to give up. After I got that first set behind me I pretty much finished it out."
   Pike knew she had the first set in her hands.
   "The first set I was playing really well," Pike said. "I had it, and I don't know what happened. I just lost it. She played an awesome match. In the second set I just bombed out. I don't know what happened."
   Pike believes that experience is separating the two players right now.
   "She's had a lot more experience than I have," Pike said. "She's more consistent than I am probably, and she just played a better match."
   If Pike and Campbell both play singles in the District 1-AA Tournament, a rematch in the district finals seems very likely.
   "I see that happening," Campbell said.
   The Elizabethton boys team also had a productive day, as the Cyclones won four of their six singles matches.
   Devin Johnson played one of the more exciting matches of the day in a 9-7 win over Josh Mallett.
   Johnson was ahead 4-0 before Mallett made a valiant comeback that just fell short.
   "I'm glad I could close it out," Johnson said.
   Weston Peters also won a tough match for the Cyclones, as he took an 8-6 decision over Drew Parsons.
   "He really played a good match," Peters said. "He made me make a few mistakes, and just had to stay in towards the end and make him make a few."
   Josh Davis also had close shave, but he pulled through with an 8-6 triumph over Brandon Triplett.
   Davis believes the Cyclone players know what it takes to win close matches.
   "We do pretty good when it gets pretty stressful," Davis said. "We've got a good coach. He helps us out when it comes down to the stress. We tend to just pull it out pretty good."
   Elizabethton's Chris Taylor had a pretty easy time in his match, as he defeated Justin Loyd 8-1.
   "I could have played better," Taylor said. "All in all I did OK."
   Taylor was out on a band trip when the Cyclones played Sullivan Central last week. Elizabethton lost the match, but O'Quinn is confident the Cyclones would have won it if Taylor had been in the lineup.
   "I'm pretty confident that if Chris had played we would have beaten Central," O'Quinn said.
   O'Quinn is looking forward to the rematch with Central in a couple of weeks that could give the Cyclones the conference title.
   "Beating Erwin today should give us control over second place," O' Quinn said. "If we can beat Central that should put us in a tie for the conference."
   * If the scores look different on the boys and the girls side, that's because the girls played two out of three sets in singles, while the boys played an eight-game pro-set.