When it comes to dynasties, the Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH) boys tennis team has all the characteristics.
The Bulls rarely lose, collecting more than a dozen conference and district championships.
They make it to the State championships on a regular basis, including winning State titles in 2014 and 2015 and a runner-up finish last year.
The Bulls never rebuild; they simply seem to reload year after year.
“We’ve had a good run,’’ says coach and school athletic director Dave Wilson.
Good? Try great.
On the way to another District title this season, and a pair of Regional playoff wins over Lakeland and Strawberry Crest, the Bulls again ended their season in Orlando at the Class 4A State championships, falling in the quarterfinals to Olympia High.
And The Streak remained alive. Since losing a match to Land O’Lakes in 2010, the Bulls have now run off 125 consecutive regular season wins.
“It’s a good feeling, because you’re always playing for something,’’ says junior captain Destiny Okungbowa, who plays No. 1 and 2 singles for the Bulls. “But, the streak is always in the back of our minds. It’s like a chip on our shoulder because everyone is gunning to be the team to end that streak. So, it kind of keeps you focused and locked in on the moment.”
Wilson does not stress keeping the streak alive to his team, but he doesn’t have to. Three of his current players — Okungbowa, sophomore Kinishkh Ramesh and Josh Abrams — all had brothers on the team who are more than willing to remind their younger siblings of the legacy.
“I’m competitive with my brothers,” says Destiny, the younger sibling of Courage, who played for a State title in 2012, and Foresight, who was on the 2014 and 2015 State champions and, Destiny says, “is always bragging about it. So yeah, I want to keep the streak.’’
In their season finale, the Bulls edged Tampa powerhouse Jesuit 4-3 (teams play five singles and two doubles lines in a match) at the Sports Club at Hunter’s Green Country Club. Ramesh and Okungbowa won at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, and teamed up at No. 1 doubles for a 7-5, 6-3 win. The fourth line was won by Abrams, who has never lost a high school singles match, with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 5.
Jesuit was missing its top player, or The Streak might now be over.
“I thought this year when we played Jesuit, they probably would have beat us if they brought everybody,” Wilson says. “In some ways, it would be nice to be done with it so we wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
Because he has to worry about it, though, Wilson must remember to bring enough of his better players to every match to ensure a win. Otherwise, he would be able to get additional playing time for some of his reserves.
“They all know we have the streak and they don’t want to be — and now, they are not going to be — the team that lost the streak,” Wilson says. “That’s why it’s a big deal to them, more than anything else.”
There may be no end in sight, either.
Ramesh, who was 14-0 in singles and 8-0 in doubles this year, and Okungbowa (14-1 and 11-0) are the two best players, and both return next season. Adam Mansour is a 6-foot-3 freshman who was 11-1 at line 3 singles, and is only getting better, and Abrams (16-0 at singles) is coming back as well.
“Based on what is coming back,’ says Wilson, “I expect us to make another run (at a State championship) next year.”