Pike derailed in quarterfinals

By Wes Holtsclaw

   MEMPHIS -- Amanda Pike was on top of her 'A-Game' Tuesday morning. Wednesday was a different story.
   In the TSSAA A/AA girls state singles tennis competition, the Elizabethton junior was unable to come back against Cannon County's Birgit Bach and fell 7-5 and 6-1 in two sets at Hutchison School in Germantown.
   "I don't think (Bach) was better, Amanda just didn't play her best today," said Elizabethton coach Danny O'Quinn. "She made a lot of errors while the other girl was consistent."
   Pike went down 3-0 in the first set of the quarterfinal match and came back with two straight games.
   "She got back in it, but she was tight and wasn't following through," O'Quinn noted.
   They split games during the next pair of exchanges before Bach took a deciding two straight games.
   Pike wasn't playing her best and Bach took advantage in the second set, taking a 4-0 lead before Pike won her lone game.
   "I wasn't hitting any of my shots today and I was playing real bad," said Pike, who finishes her junior campaign with a 12-2 record.
   "It's hard to battle back like that with someone who doesn't play with pace," she said. "I played a lot better against yesterday against a girl, who I thought hit better."
   Bach's off-speed serves and shots sometimes caught the aggressive Pike off pace.
   In her first pressure-filled state singles match, Pike was noticably less comfortable compared to her previous doubles outings.
   "It's a lot more nerve-racking and there's a lot of pressure on you because everyone is watching," she said. "You don't have anyone to talk to."
   To her advantage, there's always next year.
   "I'll be back," she said. "I will try to come back. I will try to come more prepared to handle people like that. I'm really glad and it's an honor to be here."
   Overall, Elizabethton coach O'Quinn was disappointed, but is hopeful of the future.
   "I'm a little disappointed because I thought we would do better," said O'Quinn. "Who knows what will happen down here. We didn't play our best and do as good as we could."
   Several of the Elizabethton players work hard during the off-seasons and have a great shot of coming back next year after losing just one senior.
   "We've got a good chance of getting back," he said. "We've just got to work hard this summer and see what happens."
   Girls track and field events will be getting an early start at 9 a.m. CST today at Briarcrest High School near Cordova.
   Elizabethton's hopes for a state title on the girl's side mainly rests on the shoulders of former state champion Valnessha Redd, who is currently the state's favorite in the high-jump competition.
   Redd will compete in other events, including the triple jump at the meet.
   It is also the final chance at a state crown for Happy Valley distance runner Katie Williams, who will be running the girl's mile.
   The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga signee has came close the previous three years, but is expected to give a good showing for veteran coach Don Verran.
   On the boys' side, things get underway on Friday.