Trojans’ Hike makes district debut

Olympic’s Justin Hike had a solid distrtict debut, going 1-2 with the win coming against Auburn-Riverside’s Marcus Marino in 6-1 straight sets.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Olympic’s Justin Hike had a solid distrtict debut, going 1-2 with the win coming against Auburn-Riverside’s Marcus Marino in 6-1 straight sets.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

TACOMA — The future is looking bright for Olympic’s Justin Hike.

The Trojan boys singles sensation had a strong run at last fall’s 3A Olympic League tournament, claiming the No. 2 seed to the West Central District III tourney, which began Tuesday at Sprinker Recreation Center.

And while Hike went 1-2 and was eliminated on the first day, the sophomore still gained quite a lot.

“Every time you play you take a step forward,” Oly coach Don Patraw said. “Coming to districts this year, he knows the players that will be here in the future.”

And being just a sophomore himself, that future is looking pretty bright.

In the opening match, Hike fell to North Thurston’s Matt Huynh in 6-2 straight sets. Hike rebounded with his first district win however, topping Auburn-Riverside’s Marcus Marino in 6-1 straight sets. He then had the toughest of consolation draws, taking on AR’s No. 1 singles threat, Alex VanDerschelden. And while VanDerschelden won 6-2, 6-1, Hike was in the match throughout.

“He played pretty well,” Patraw said of the final match for Hike. “The kid he was playing was kind of cocky. You don’t play around. That’s just not good sportsmanship.”

Hike said just getting one win should help greatly looking to next season.

“Yeah, just that I won pretty good,” he said. “It’s a little bit of confidence for next year.”

Hike has the ability and skill to hang with the district’s big boys, but rather still needs to work more on his mental game, Patraw said.

“It’s just staying tough throughout the match; staying mentally strong when you’re playing from behind,” Patraw said. “It’s something we’re going to have to work on.”

That said, Hike’s coach was very pleased with the poise he showed at the district tourney.

“I tell him, ‘You played well,’” Patraw said. “He didn’t have any outlashes, any meltdowns. It was a strong mental game for him.”

A club player, Hike said he doesn’t tend to feel the layoff that some athletes have in waiting the nearly six months between the two tournaments.

“It helps a lot,” Hike said. “You can just focus on one sport. You can just focus on all your strokes and just get better. I just get to practice the whole time.”

Patraw said the experience of coming to the tournament itself also should help boost his game.

“I think a lot,” he said. “A lot of kids when they’re freshman and sophomores think they’re the big fish at the school. Then they come up here and there’s some real big fish, or sharks.”

Hike agreed, saying now it’s just practice, practice, practice until next season arrives.

“For sure. Now it’s just practice all summer up until next year,” he said.

And being a club player, Patraw is excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

“He’s just going to get stronger and better,” Patraw said. “He’ll continue playing at the club. That’s not going to hurt too much. That’s where the program is developed.”

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