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By Steve Breazeale
In the classic baseball film Major League, the Indians head coach Lou Brown (played by James Gammon) tells his team in a memorable dead-pan locker room scene:
“We won a game yesterday. If we win one today that’s two in a row … We win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak.”
After four straight years of dominance, the St. Margaret’s girls tennis team knows exactly what Brown was talking about in terms of a winning streak, only on a much bigger scale.
On Monday the Tartans (4-0) defeated visiting Calvary Chapel 15-3 at the Rancho San Clemente Tennis Club for the program’s 100th consecutive match-win in a row. It’s a streak that dates back four years, four consecutive CIF-SS championships and dozens of players.
Tartans assistant coach Rick Trager has been through it all with the Tartans. As the former head coach, Trager saw the streak start at three back in 2008 and carry into 2012. He’s coached in the Orange County area for 25 years and hasn’t seen anything like the run the Tartans are on.
“The crazy thing about tennis is that anything can happen. It’s such an individual sport and to have this happen is remarkable,” Trager said.
Senior captain Zoe Oedekerk has been present for much of the streak and saw herself transform from a timid freshman to a confident captain. Oedekerk believes that team unity has been the its biggest strength throughout the years. Aside from hanging out at school the team does everything together off the court, which means constant team dinners and get-togethers.
In between matches the Tartans continue a tradition of joining together to say a prayer and talk about what they can do to win the match at hand. Each player offers tips to their teammates, and the meeting is designed to boost morale as well as the teams’ overall level of play, according to Oedekerk.
“I know everyone is really excited about this (100 straight wins) … We are so used to finding a way (to win) and I think that’s what I love about this team the most,” Oedekerk said. “Knowing that everyone cares so much about this and cares for each other makes us want to win that much more and I think that is what helps us ultimately pull it out.”
There have been times when the win streak, and a CIF-SS Championship, were in jeopardy. Both Oedekerk and Trager recalled last year’s CIF-SS Division 3 Championship match against Sage Hill, when the Tartans needed to win the last four matches of the day to win another title. Trager recalled the emotional moment when he told his team what the stakes were, saying the girls eyes were “glued” on him as he spoke. The girls went out and swept the last four matches and won the title by a slim, four-point margin.
Heading into the season, Trager felt it was time for him to take a backseat and lend more of a supporting role to the team. Now the win streak falls into the hands of new head coach Chris Barker and this year’s Tartan squad, which has a promising mix of seniors and underclassmen.
“The streak shows the dedication the girls have here. They don’t go out there just to play another match … Hopefully they will want to keep continuing that winning tradition,” Barker said. “I hope we keep the streak going past 100 if we can.”