Wilson High School has had the best tennis team in the Interhigh the last four years, compiling a 52-1 record. The Tigers haven't lost a league match in those years and have won five of the last six Interhigh tournaments.

So what does the best team in the Interhigh do to remain on top? The players practice, practice and practice some more.

"We practice hard, but we still have the best players in the Interhigh," said Wilson Coach Isom Upkins. "These kids play a lot of tennis outside of our regular practices."

This spring, the Tigers finished the regular season 8-0, which raised their overall winning streak in league play to 38 straight matches. They then went on to win the Interhigh championship.

The squad's No. 1 player is Hans Olson, a 5-foot-11 blond who had to wait a season to take over the top spot because older brother Nils was No. 1 a year ago. Hans won the Interhigh boys singles title last week.

"Hans is the best player in the league, without a doubt," said teammate Jesse Nickelsen. "He plays tennis every day of the year, and nobody else can say that."

Olson, a junior, has won 19 straight matches in the last three years.

"A couple of colleges have looked at me, but I still have a long time to go before I decide what I am going to do," he said. "I play as much tennis as possible and I know that if I work hard I can only get better."

But the boys aren't the only reason the Tigers are undefeated this season. Interhigh tennis is structured so that there are boys and girls on the same team. The boys have six competing and three girls also play. Four boys and one girl play singles, and the rest of the members of the team play doubles.

Donna Fleming played as the top girls seed all season for Wilson, but Upkins was always quick to point out that second-seeded Christine Calhoun is just as good. His contention proved correct last week as Calhoun won the Interhigh girls singles championship.

"Christine has beaten Donna in challenge matches this year, and it really doesn't make a difference who is No. 1 because they're both so good," said Upkins. "It doesn't make a difference who plays {No. 1}, although it probably does to them."

Wilson figures to stay on top in years to come. This year's team is full of underclassmen. Of the six boys players, only Steven Hall will be gone next year.

"We've got such a strong team," said Nickleson. "And next year, it will be even stronger."

The girls team has two sophomore players. Fourth-seeded Stephanie Johnson and fifth-seeded Nia Cooper will vie for the top spot next season.

"Most of our players come from families who have tennis backgrounds, somewhat like Hans'," pointed out Nickelsen. "We've been involved with the game for a long time, and most of the players also play in the NJTL {National Junior Tennis League}. Some of the players even participate in the Washington Area Tennis Patrons."

One of the major ironies of the winning streak is that the team doesn't have its own tennis court. The school was supposed to have new courts at the beginning of the season, but they're not completed.

"We've been practicing on the McLean Garden tennis courts up near our school," said Nickelsen. "So we've kind of had to play it by ear in order to get practice time."

Playing time is something that Upkins doesn't worry about. "Our players play on their own, and that's what is really important. If you don't play tennis with other people whose game are at least as good as yours, your game isn't going to get any better," he said. "Our players love to play tennis and that's the secret."

With a strong fundamental base and a workaholic coach, Wilson's tennis future looks bright. But not everything is all rosy. "Sometimes I just don't know what to do with all of the players," sighed Upkins. "Everybody wants to play and win, and that's not possible. But I do my best so that everyone has a chance to play, and most of the time, they all win."