CLAREMONT — Coach A.G. Longoria gathered his Sage Hill School girls' tennis team for one more photo-op. The backdrop was the tennis court where the team's season just ended Monday.
Longoria asked each player to smile at the camera. It was hard for most of them to crack a genuine one after coming oh so close to stunning rival St. Margaret's in the CIF Southern Section Division III final at The Claremont Club.
Fifth-seeded Sage Hill and fourth-seeded St. Margaret's were even through 18 sets. Games won decided the finale and the Tartans held a 69-60 edge, claiming their third straight section title.
St. Margaret's avoided the upset and kept its 72-match winning streak intact. Sage Hill put up a fight in the fourth meeting against its Academy League foe.
Beating a talented team like Sage Hill (17-5) that many times in a season is not easy.
The Lightning led for much of the finale, going up, 9-7, in sets late. Two sets remained and they were in singles action, an area in which the Tartans are the strongest.