Dove, Pike secure state reservations

By Matt Hill

   PIGEON FORGE -- A fourth of July fireworks show at Freedom Hall couldn't have been more spectacular than the performance that Elizabethton's Amanda Pike and Liz Dove put on Tuesday in the Region 1-A/AA Tennis Tournament.
   The doubles team of Dove and Pike earned a trip to next week's state tournament in Chattanooga by downing Unicoi County's Stephanie Nuss and Lucy Hunigan 6-1, 6-2 in the girls championship match at Pigeon Forge City Park.
   "I think it's great," Dove said. "We played really well today. We deserve it because we worked really hard all year."
   Everything went right for the Lady Cyclone tandem on this day. Pike and Dove overpowered their opponents, and at one time won seven straight games.
   The performance and the opportunity to go to Chattanooga put a smile on Pike's face.
   It feels pretty good," Pike said. "I'm real excited about it, my first year and everything. I'm sure the experience will help a lot since I'm going to be playing for the next three years."
   Pike and Dove played this same team in the District 1-A/AA final last week, and it was a much tougher match.
   But Pike said the nerves that were there in the district tournament couldn't be found on Tuesday.
   "I just got real nervous whenever we played that," Pike said. "I don't know why, but here I was not even nervous about it. I guess since we already beat them three times. Fourth time wasn't that bad.
   Dove also thought the fact the team had defeated Nuss and Hunigan three times before gave them the confidence they needed.
   "We came down here, and we knew we wanted it," Dove said. "We knew we could beat them because we had beaten them three times before. We knew we had to keep it going, and make our shots count. And we did."
   It's an outstanding achievement for Dove to make it to Chattanooga. She just started playing tennis two years ago, so she has reached the pinnacle very quickly.
   "I'm pretty happy," Dove said. "I had never played tennis before until a couple of years ago. I think I've picked it up pretty fast."
   Pike has now accomplished something that two members of her family have already done. Amanda's father, Billy Pike, was a finalist in boys singles for University High before going on to star at East Tennessee State University.
   A generation later, Amanda's brother, Brandon Pike, made it all the way to the boys singles final for Elizabethton, and is now playing at Virginia Intermont College.
   Pike is very happy to start accomplishing some of the things her brother did.
   "It makes me feel real good because of all the things that he did whenever he was in high school, and now I'm living up to it," Pike said. "It makes me feel real happy."
   Pike and Dove both like their chances in Chattanooga next week.
   "We'll try," Pike said. "I don't know what the competition is like since I've never been and everything, but I think we'll do pretty good."
   Said Dove: "I think we have a pretty good chance if we play as well as we did today. We will go as far as we can."
   In boys doubles action, the EHS tandem of Weston Peters and David Reece gave a valiant effort before going down to defeat, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to Gatlinburg-Pittman's Chuck Edwards and Toby Kirkland in semifinal action.
   This match was resumed from Monday due to rain, and the lay-off seemed to help the team from Gatlinburg-Pittman. Peters and Reece were ahead 7-5, 3-2 when play resumed on Tuesday.
   "I think we were just looking ahead to the next match," Peters said. "We thought we were going to be playing in the championship."
   Reece thought the match being suspended hurt the team.
   "I think the lay-off really hurt us," Reece said. "We thought about the match hard. I think it made us more tentative. We weren't ourselves out there today."
   Reece was disappointed with the outcome, but believes he can get back to this point next season.
   "I think it's possible," Reece said.
   Peters closes out a successful tennis career at EHS. Peters only played one season of tennis, but did very well.
   "We had a good year," Peters said. "Being district champs is an accomplishment in itself. But I would have rather gone down the road."
   The boys singles final was won by Sullivan Central's Andy Tate, a 6-3, 6-4 victor over South Greene's Anthony Shelton.
   Unicoi County's Amber Campbell earned her third straight trip to Chattanooga with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Volunteer's Morgan Smith."
   The Lady Cyclone tennis team will be playing in the sectionals on Thursday at 1 p.m. against the Christian Academy of Knoxville at the YMCA.