By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001
The Streak, as it is commonly referred to at Seminole, began when members of the current team were just starting elementary school.
After years of mediocrity, Seminole burst onto the scene in 1991 and won 14 consecutive Pinellas County Athletic Conference matches and a first-ever state title.
There hasn't been a PCAC loss since, and the Warhawks picked up two more state championships in 1998 and 1999.
The Streak has been passed like a torch, from players like Rachel Fiset, Angela Lovelace, Angela Karcher, Helen Yotseff and coach Erin Russell from the 1991 team to Christa Grey, Lori Grey, Lauren Scaglione, Nicole Cercone and coach Rich Lally from recent teams.
The Streak is 146 and counting. Alumni know the number. Lally knows the number, and the players on this season's team sure know the number.
"I really feel lucky to be a part of it," junior Courtney Koch said. "To be a part of a state championship when I was a freshman was really neat. There's a little pressure to keep it going, but we know it can't last forever. We've lost a lot of players, so we're going to be more focused on just winning each match, not the streak."
There have been several close calls along the way, matches that have gone down to No. 2 doubles. And Seminole did lose a match last season when St. Petersburg defeated it in the district final.
But the regular-season streak is intact, at least for now.
If there were ever a time when The Streak was in jeopardy, this seems to be the year. Seminole has no seniors, and only Koch and Desiree Collins played any extended time last season.
Collins will play No. 1 singles after playing No. 3 last season. Koch moves from No. 4 to No. 2. Collins and Koch also will form the No. 1 doubles team.
Sophomore Katie Kiernan will play No. 3, and sophomore Alison Morse will play No. 4. After that, No. 5 singles is wide open.
"We're a young team this year," Lally said. "We don't have the depth we used to. But hey, we'll compete in every match. And I remember telling this to a reporter five years ago. But if we lose a match, we'll just start another streak."
Seminole will be tested in its first match when it plays East Lake on Feb. 14. Then there's Palm Harbor University, Lakewood, Clearwater and Countryside, among others.
Collins is realistic when it comes to The Streak.
"It's not impossible to keep our streak, but it's basically out of reach," she said. "We don't want to be disappointed when we lose a match, like it's the end of our season. We're really going to be more focused on each match and just trying to win instead of thinking about the streak."
Not only does Seminole know about The Streak, but other teams in the PCAC do, too. In fact, the Warhawks know every team would love to be the one to snap The Steak.
"I feel it's gotten way, way too competitive," Koch said. "In the past years, it hasn't even been looked at as a tennis match, but 'Can we beat Seminole?' The team spirit, so to speak, is a little beyond what it should be. It should be just about playing tennis."
There will eventually come a time when Seminole must start a new streak, an idea the current team understands but isn't quite ready to think about.
"It's going to be heartbreaking," Collins said.
"But I can't even imagine it right now. It's just always been this way."