Clover's girls' tennis began a streak in 2006 that remained intact with a win at Northwestern on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Eagles have won 53 consecutive region matches.
A run of region wins like that isn't possible without depth and talent. Clover has had both characteristics for a while.
Depth comes from the 11 players on its varsity roster. It's a number that makes it difficult for coach Phil Wingard to please everyone on the team. Everyone wants to play in matches, but there aren't enough matches to go around. But in 10 matches, all 11 girls have played.
Clover has talent. Sophomore Kate Stewart and junior Molly Miszkiewicz are both undefeated in singles play. Stewart plays No. 1 for the Blue Eagles, and Miszkiewicz plays No. 2. Neither has lost a set this season.
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Bailey Sowell, Caroline Hester and Anna Miszkiewicz have just one loss in singles. Elizabeth Edmunds and Corey Brom are 6-0 at No. 2 doubles. Harriet Hall and Patterson Joyner have won all of their matches when they've been called on to perform.
"It may end this year," Wingard said. "We aren't talking about (the streak). This year, we are just talking about possibilities. We haven't won anything yet. We don't have any hardware."
The hardware would come with a region championship and state title.
Clover won the Class AAA state championship in 2003. Wingard was an assistant coach under Renee Farris then. He remembered the championship and saw Clover's No. 1 and No. 2 singles fall. The Blue Eagles won the title in doubles play.
"We had to have depth that year," Wingard said. "We have depth to compete this year, maybe not state championship depth, but we will make people work."
South Carolina high school tennis matches are made up of five singles matches and two doubles contests. A team wins when it collects four victories.
Thursday at Northwestern, Clover picked up straight-sets wins in three singles matches. Stewart beat Maggie Orr 6-2, 6-2. MollyMiszkiewicz defeated Chandler Green 6-2, 6-0, and Hester downed Emily Edwards 6-1, 6-0.
It took a comeback win from Clover's Anna Miszkiewicz, an eighth-grader, to seal the win for the Blue Hose. Anna lost the first set to Northwestern's Alexis Peddy, 4-6, but rebounded to win the second 6-1. The match was decided by a first-to-10-points tie breaker where Anna prevailed, 10-1.
Clover's players know it has been a long time since the team has lost a region match. The streak doesn't matter much to them.
"We know that other teams are good, and we have to be consistent to win," Molly Miszkiewicz said.
"You can't get your mind too far forward," Stewart said. "We have to play each match."
Clover is 10-0 overall and 5-0 in region 3-AAAA.
Northwestern is 6-7 and fell to 2-4 in region play.
Realignment of the regions this year means the Blue Eagles have to play a tough Spartanburg team twice. The first match was scheduled for Sept. 23 but was postponed. Clover will play at Spartanburg on Oct. 12.
For now, the streak is alive and well. But Wingard knows it isn't going to last forever.
"Tennis is so unpredictable," he said, "That's why I love it."
Clover is a young team that will continue to be strong for years to come.