Pike celebrates birthday with fine showing in AAC tourney

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   BRISTOL--There couldn't have been a better birthday present for Brandon Pike.
   The Virginia Intermont star and former Elizabethton High standout defeated Tennessee Wesleyan's Roman Polesecki 6-2, 6-1 to win flight No. 5 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tennis Tournament at the Bristol Racquet Club Friday afternoon.
   The win by Pike avenges a loss in the AAC finals last year, and made for a pleasant 22nd birthday.
   "This has to be a happy day in his life," Virginia Intermont tennis coach Ron Worrell said. "It just happens to be his birthday. I think finishing out the conference season with a win here today with his mom here to see that and with some of his old coaches here, it's just great to see the happiness on his face today.
   "It makes me very proud. I know his mom and dad are certainly proud of the career he's had with us."
   Pike's senior year has been filled with many happy moments. He went through the conference season undefeated, and has done very well against Division I players outside the conference.
   But with Pike playing his last AAC singles match around noon Friday, this one had a little more meaning.
   "This is definitely a special win," Pike said. "This is a good way to finish up I guess. I'm proud of the team this year, and I feel like we've done well."
   Pike may have lost only three games on the day, but it was a hard-fought match. There were plenty of good rallies, and many of the games went to AD before the Cobra pulled them out.
   "He played well," Pike said. "He's improved a lot. At the beginning of the season I was beating him easily, and today I had to work hard."
   Virginia Intermont won five of the six singles titles en route to easily winning the conference tournament overall.
   Pike also teamed up with Luis Lazo De La Vega to win the third flight in doubles later in the day.
   Overall, Pike is happy he decided to come to Virginia Intermont.
   "I'm very happy with the decision I made, and the decision I made to stay," Pike said. "I did think about transferring, but I'm very glad I stayed. I appreciate Coach Worrell and all the opportunities he's given me at VI."
   The Milligan Lady Buffaloes pulled out a big shocker on Friday afternoon as sisters Cassie and Cheri Lomison defeated top-seeded Kago Phatshwane and Esther Mbugua 6-4, 6-3 to take the title in No. 1 doubles.
   The unseeded sister act went into an attack mode against the team from Virginia Intermont and reaped the benefits.
   "We just played aggressive," Cheri Lomison said. "We went out knowing we were the underdog, and we knew we had to take every opportunity to win the point and come to the net. We just had to be aggressive and go for the big serve. We weren't tentative at all, we just attacked the whole match."
   Both sisters relished in knowing they won this title together.
   "I enjoy playing with my sister," Cheri said. "It's a lot of fun."
   Said Cassie Lomison: "We never really played on a tennis team together, so that was real good that we could come out here and win the conference in our first time playing as a team."
   Milligan head coach Marvin Glover felt like the Lomison sisters were due a performance like this one.
   "I'm very proud of Cassie and Cheri," Glover said. "They played well all year. They haven't had a match where both of them played to their potential, and today was the day. That's a quality win against a quality team."
   Virginia Intermont's women took the overall team title.