Pike gains national recognition in NAIA tennis

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   A former Elizabethton High School tennis standout is receiving attention nationally for his talent.
   Virginia Intermont's Brandon Pike has earned a national ranking in both singles and doubles by the NAIA.
   Pike is ranked 35th in all of NAIA men's tennis in singles, and is ranked 11th nationally in doubles with his partner, Brazil native Vinni Bitencourt.
   Pike and the Cobras have been soaring to new heights during the fall season. Pike was very pleased to hear about the recognition.
   "It's quite the accomplishment," Pike said. "I've had a pretty good year, and I've beat some pretty good players. Hopefully, it will continue to go up as the year progresses."
   Pike was one of four Cobra players to be nationally ranked. One VI tennis star, Jorge Ascencio, was ranked No. 1 in the country when the rankings came out last week.
   Pike is glad to see the team getting noticed in the poll.
   "That's the best accomplishment by any VI team ever," Pike said. "I think our expectations have risen, and I think we will be all right.
   Virginia Intermont finished second in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament last season, but should be favored to win the April event this year.
   Pike has even greater goals in mind.
   "We have a very strong team," Pike said. "We should compete for the national title."
   Pike lost only two matches in the fall season. One was to a player from NCAA Division I UNC-Asheville, while the other was to an NAIA player ranked in the top ten nationally.
   Despite the successful fall, Pike sees room for improvement.
   "My ranking is high, but I think it can improve," Pike said.
   This is Pike's final year in Bristol, and it will mark the end to a spectacular career.
   It may be the end of the road for Pike as far as college tennis, but Pike is not worrying about it being over.
   "Of course I think about it," Pike said. "I've had my time. I wish I had another year, but it's not anything I can worry about. I just have to play.
   According to Pike, he has no regrets about his career at Virginia Intermont.
   "I'm very happy," Pike said. "I would of liked to have played Division I, but I've had a good experience here."