- The Rhinelander Girls Tennis team could win their fifth straight Great Northern Conference championship this year.
No other Hodag team has ever had that level of success.
"We really don't talk about it very much, other than what's currently going on in the conference race," says Girls Varsity Coach Bob Heideman. "We try to focus on that."
The first-place lady Hodags tennis team is on the verge of finishing a historic run to greatness.
They have won four conference championships in a row.
And thanks to their 7-1 victory over second-place Antigo Tuesday, they may just take home title number five this season.
It's something that hasn't been done very often.
"I did a little research when we went to our fourth in a row, and I thought there were some swimming teams that got five in a row, but other than that, I couldn't find any," says Heideman. "There really haven't been any Rhinelander teams that have been able to put a streak like that together."
Seniors on the team have only lost one match in the Great Northern Conference in their entire high school careers.
But players don't feel pressured by their success.
"There's always pressure once you have wins behind you, but at the same time it motivates you to go forward and it kind of makes you work harder at practice," says senior Erin Tenderholt.
Players give credit for their achievements to their deep roster.
"I feel like it was a lot harder when we first started," says senior Tessa Bloch. "The competition was harder, but as we've been going, I think the team's gotten a lot deeper, so the lead I think is a little farther."
"I came into the team starting at 4 singles, and then there were some people that were consistent players, but I think this year, we have consistent players at every level of the lineup," says senior Eileen Emond.
But everyone agrees that the team's coaching has helped them get to where they are.
"We've had the same coaches that have helped out, Bob Messerly and Jerry Beyer, for the years that we've won, and they've actually been here a little longer than that, but that stability in coaching has really helped," says Heideman.
"I think it definitely comes down to the coaching, and the work we all put in, because I don't we would be where we are right now if it wasn't for the coaches and the time they put in in the summers," says Bloch. "[They're] working hard to, you know, win."
The girls will take their commanding lead in the GNC to Marshfield-Columbus for a match Thursday.
The conference championship, as well as a chance at history for the Hodags, will be decided at the conference tournament at Antigo on Saturday, September 27th.