Pike, Dove feisty in defeat

By Matt Hill

   CHATTANOOGA -- Amanda Pike and Liz Dove were like a fireplace on Wednesday afternoon in the individual Class A-AA state doubles tournament. They turned up the heat after a slow start.
   Pike and Dove lost in the first round to Jill Butler and Ashley Helms of the University School of Jackson 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, but the tandem made their presence felt before going down to defeat.
   "I think they played great," EHS tennis coach Danny O'Quinn said. "I think nerves affected a couple of their shots. It seemed like they were tense when they hit, but they played great. I'm very proud of them. They're one of the top eight doubles teams in the state. It's a great experience for them."
   Pike and Dove fell behind 4-1 in the first set, but rallied back to take a 6-5 lead by overpowering the team from Jackson.
   "It takes me awhile to get warmed up," Dove said. "I guess because we were at this stage we were a little more nervous than normal."
   Butler and Helms won the next game to take it to a tiebreaker, which was a very tight affair.
   The score was 5-5 in the tiebreaker before Helms and Butler won the next two points to take the first set.
   "We were very nervous in the first set," Pike said. "I think we should have won it in the tiebreaker, we really should have. I don't know, I guess just being down here made us real nervous, and we just couldn't pull through."
   The pivotal point of the second set came when Butler and Helms broke the EHS server to go up 3-2 in the frame. Butler and Helms went on to win the next two games, and never looked back.
   Pike thought losing the tiebreaker sort of took the wind out of their sails.
   "It was really tough on us," Pike said. "We just took it too personal. We kind of beat ourselves in the second set. I think we could have beaten them. Seriously, I really do."
   Dove also thinks the team from EHS could have pulled out the win.
   "We just made silly mistakes," Dove said. "That hurt us the whole match. I don't know, I think we should have beaten them."
   O'Quinn thought nerves played a factor in the loss.
   "I think they were really tight in the first set," O'Quinn said. "They let them get out to a 4-1 lead. They came back and pushed it to a tiebreaker. But I'm sure nerves were a factor with it being both Amanda and Liz's first time here. Amanda's a freshman, so I'm sure nerves were a part of it. But the team they played, you've got give them credit, they were a good team."
   The loss doesn't diminish what the team accomplished in this match. Pike believes that they can build on being down 4-1 in the first set and coming back.
   "Seeing that we were down that bad, and then we came back and we almost had them," Pike said. "Yeah, that's definitely going to help us next year if we come this far. And I think we will."
   Pike and Dove have the option to play singles or doubles next year, but Pike would like to come back with Dove, and maybe win all the marbles in 2003.
   "I would definitely love that," Pike said. "We could do a lot better next year, too.
   Said Dove: "We haven't really talked about it yet. I guess we'll see what happens next year, and see how much will improve over the summer."
   O'Quinn believes Pike and Dove could do some damage next season.
   "Definitely, I think they have a chance," O'Quinn said. "We'll talk next year, and if that's what they want to do I'm all for it. They've had such a good year this year, I would like to see them do it. And with a year's experience coming down here, and getting that experience and nerves out of the way, I think they'll have a lot better chance next year."
   Wednesday's close loss spells the end of what was a great season for the Lady Cyclones. The whole squad played Tuesday in the state team tournament.
   Dove thinks that next year could be even better.
   "This is a learning experience," Dove said. "We're coming back next year, and we're hopefully going to play a little better."