Legendary coach works with Pike

By Matt Hill

   Virginia Intermont tennis player Brandon Pike worked with a legendary tennis coach this summer, and he hopes the experience will be one that will pay major dividends for the former Elizabethton High School standout.
   Pike helped out Furman tennis coach Paul Scarpa this summer by working a camp at the Greenville, S.C. school.
   "We had two weeks of day camp and five weeks of residential camp," Pike said. "Some of the top juniors from all over the country were at the camp. I played with some of the top players in the country and top players in the world."
   Pike, a rising senior at VI, taught with players who were some of the best in college tennis.
   "My roommate there plays Davis Cup for Iceland," Pike said. "I was playing top Division I players everyday."
   Pike had the opportunity to work with a distinguished coach in Scarpa, who is considered one of the most recognizable names in collegiate tennis.
   It was an experience that Pike treasured.
   "He's a great coach and a great guy," Pike said. "He's good to work for and good to work with. All the kids seem to like him a lot."
   Pike was very impressed with Coach Scarpa's knowledge of the game.
   "He knows what he's talking about," Pike said.
   The experience may end up being one that Pike will not soon forget. It might also help Pike down the road.
   "It was a learning experience" Pike said. "If I wanted to be a pro, working there would help me with my pro certification. It's something I can fall back on."
   Pike made special bonds with the kids that he taught. Many children look up to college kids, and Pike was more than happy to be a mentor for them.
   But the camp recently ended, and everybody went back home. Pike didn't want to leave all the new friends he had made.
   "That was sad," Pike said about the camp ending. "When we got down there nobody knew anyone. I was attached to some of the kids. We took them roller skating and to the movies. I was sad to see them go."
   Pike wouldn't mind working the camp again.
   "I had a good time," Pike said. "I might go back again next year. You never know."
   As for the Pike family, it's been a great year for them. Brandon won the Appalachian Athletic Conference doubles title this season, and his sister has also made some waves.
   Amanda Pike teamed up with Liz Dove to make the TSSAA state doubles tournament in May. Pike has had continued success this summer.
   Brandon is very pleased with his sister.
   "I'm proud of her," Pike said. "I hope she keeps it up. She has potential. It's up to her how far she goes."
   As for the older brother, he is gearing up for his final season in Bristol.
   Pike hopes to go out with a bang.
   "I hope to make this a big year," Pike said. "My goal is to play No. 1. But I don't feel like a senior."
   Pike thinks that what he did this summer will show when the fall season starts next month.
   "I want to be more of a leader than a follower," Pike said. "Playing with these guys this summer gave me the confidence to achieve at any level."
   Pike is unsure about what he's going to do after graduation, but the plans could include playing professionally.
   "I might try graduate school or I might play a little pro," Pike said. "I might play some futures and challengers. From there I could earn points that could bring me to pro status."