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Princeton’s Zach Hicks hits a tee shot during Saturday’s Princeton Invitational at the Chapel Hill Golf Course. Hicks and his sister Arraia, both all-area golfers last season, have used the game as a way to bond. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
PRINCETON — At least once a week during the summer, Zach and Arraia Hicks had plans.
Despite the busy work and summer schedules that go with being high school students, the brother and sister on this year’s Princeton golf teams made sure to find time for one another and for golf.
“We have a really good relationship,” said Arraia, a sophomore on the PHS girls golf team. “Golf has just allowed us to spend so much more time together, and he made sure to find time to go golfing with me.”
The summer golf dates not only helped the siblings improve their games, but it also helped to solidify their bond.
“I think it’s really cool because we have a bond through golf, which is neat because a lot of siblings don’t really get to play the same sport,” said Zach, a senior on the PHS boys golf squad. “Golf has helped bring us closer together, and it gives us something to talk about at dinner time. She can tell me all the inside info on the courses that she’s played at and I can share stuff that I experienced.”
Both have had plenty of success so far this season and in their prep careers.
Last fall, the tandem was each named to their respective NewsTribune All-Area Golf teams. Despite being only a freshman, Arraia was a member of the six-person all-area girls golf squad, while Zach was named to the all-area second-team boys golf squad for a second straight season.
This year, the pair has continued to have success.
So far this fall, Zach has a 39.71 nine-hole average, been the medalist in six of the Tigers’ 12 meets and finished sixth at Saturday’s Princeton Invitational.
“So far this season, Zach has come out of the gates pretty hot,” PHS boys golf coach Duane Price said. “Hopefully, he can be a Three Rivers champion, which would be fantastic in our first year in the conference.
“There’s still a few more weeks between now and the postseason, but I think he has the potential and the skills to be a state qualifier. If he can get to state, that would be awesome.”
The elder statesman of a young Princeton squad, Zach has thrived as the team’s leader and has become the team’s ambassador.
“Zach came to me early — before the first practice — and we were talking about the season, his game and the expectations that I had for him,” Price recalls. “Well, his first question he asked was, ‘What can I do for my teammates?’ He didn’t even need to know what he needed to do for himself. He wanted to know what I expected from him as far as being a leader goes. We are definitely a younger team, but I think the younger kids are really benefiting from him and his leadership.”
Arraia — whose name is pronounced A-ray-A and whose mother jokes that her name is pronounced like a ray of sunshine — has been the top golfer this season for the Tigresses as she has a team-low 48.7 nine-hole average.
“She’s been very solid and has been playing really well,” PHS girls golf coach Will Gross said. “She’s been medalist three times this season, and she is leading us in scoring average. She is just a good, solid leader on our golf team, and the other girls seem to look up to her.”
Just like how the sibling pair look up to each other, especially during their summer golf rounds, which oftentimes turned competitive.
The only question that remains to be asked, however, is did Zach dominate his younger sister?
“The sad thing is, no,” admitted Zach, who played from the far tees while Arraia played from the ladies tees. “She can bring it when she is on her game. She can play pretty well.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.