Sunday, May 6, 2001
[ COLLEGE TENNIS ]
Brigham Young-Hawaii has
dominated its opponents for a long time,
and now the Seasiders are
unbeaten in their last ...
By Brandon LeeIF THE MEASURING STICK, or thermometer, if you will, is for consecutive games won, then the hottest team in the history of collegiate tennis calls Laie, Oahu, its home.
The Brigham Young University-Hawaii women's tennis team took a little longer yesterday to dispatch Hawaii-Hilo than a lot of its previous 99 opponents, but the end result was much the same. The dominating win was the Lady Seasiders' 100th dual-match victory in a row without a loss.
After approximately a one-hour rain delay, No. 2 singles player Tagifano So'onalole completed the strong performance the host Lady Seasiders started in doubles play before the showers at the BYUH courts, as she finished off Hawaii-Hilo's Lori Sakakihara 6-0, 6-0.
So'onalole's win gave national No. 1 BYUH (33-0) a 5-0 victory over No. 22 Hilo (11-11) in an NCAA Division II West Regional final and a berth in the 16-team national championships in Pensacola, Fla., May 10-13.
Continuing toward its third consecutive Division II title and fifth overall (1997-98 NAIA champions) was BYUH's ultimate goal against the Vulcans, but yesterday's victory carried extra significance. Sure some teams have won more national titles in a row than the Lady Seasiders, but no other NCAA team at any level, men or women, has ever won 100 consecutive matches.
It is believed that no NAIA team has ever reached the 100-straight win plateau either.
"That's a great feat to achieve, it's great for the team," So'onalole said. "It's motivation for the team, to work harder for nationals, and hopefully we can bring another title back."
Coach Dave Porter said his Lady Seasiders hadn't really paid much attention to the streak along the way. But he said the team recently started to talk about it more.
"I don't think it was much of a distraction until we were at 97, 98 (consecutive wins), then there was a lot of conversation about it," Porter said. "I think today they knew (the 100th win) was happening, and there toward the end, there was a little nervousness about trying to finish and make sure they got it."
If the BYUH women were feeling any pressure, it wasn't reflected in the final scores. So'onalole and her partner Petra Gaspar -- the No. 1-ranked doubles team in Division II -- fell behind 0-2 to the Vulcans' duo of Nathalia Jung and Francine Amoa, but stormed back to win 8-4. The Lady Seasiders won the other two doubles matches against Hilo 8-1 and 8-0, to take a 3-0 lead heading into singles play.
Hana Krivonozokova took out Annie Pham 6-0, 6-0, before the rains came, and BYUH was comfortably leading in all five other singles contests when play was suspended. When it resumed, only So'onalole and Sakakihara took the court, and then only for about five minutes of actual play, as their match was nearest to completion for the determining 5-0 overall score.
"(BYUH's streak) is impeccable," said Hilo coach Ryan Ideta, who guided the Vulcans to their best finish ever in his first season after a successful collegiate career as a Division I player and assistant coach. "I've seen top Division I teams play, and I would put BYUH right up there."
So'onalole, Gaspar and Tomoko Sukegawa -- all juniors at BYUH --have experienced all 100 victories. The streak started at the beginning of their first seasons with the Lady Seasiders and the team's first in Division II on November 9,1998.
The first of 37 victories that season was over island rival Chaminade.
Twenty-three victories against Division I teams are also part of the streak. BYUH's last loss came against Auburn-Montgomery, 5-4, in the final regular-season match of its final year in the NAIA.
BYUH (the men also qualified for national championships for the first time on Friday) leaves for Pensacola tonight. The tournament draw will be announced Wednesday.
With their 100th consecutive win behind them, Porter and the Lady Seasiders are focused on the tough competition ahead between them and another national crown. But in a brief moment of reflection on the streak in the short celebration that followed yesterday's victory, Porter attempted to put it into perspective.
"I suppose that 20 to 30 years from now, this is something that I'll remember and we'll still be discussing, more than maybe any of the individual championships," Porter said. "In the long run, this may be more important, though it doesn't seem like it now."
In two separate West Regional finals hosted by Hawaii Pacific at the BYUH courts later yesterday, the fifth-ranked Sea Warrior men (14-2) downed UC Davis, 5-0, for a spot at the national championships. The 13th-ranked Sea Warrior women (13-7) will not be making the trip to Pensacola, however, as they fell to UC San Diego, 5-3.