Modesto High had dominated the Modesto Metro Conference this fall, going 15-0 and celebrating a sixth straight girls tennis championship.
That's the memory Mackenzie Cook and her three senior teammates will recall about their days in one of the city's legendary athletic programs.
What the Panthers' graduating foursome won't dwell on, however, is their 2009 appearance in the Sac-Joaquin Section team tennis tournament.
It began and ended Monday with a 6-3 loss to Central California Conference runner-up Merced. Modesto won three singles, including Nos. 1 and 2, but the Bears used depth and experience to pull away.
Merced plays the 6-3 format in conference play, while the MMC insists on a 4-3 format.
Imagine playing eight-man football all season, then going to 11-man during the playoffs.
Bethany Gierhan, for example, was a doubles player this fall but slid into the No. 5 singles slot on Monday. She beat Jessica Gottschall 7-6, 6-3, but that also meant coach Matt Vaughn had to piece together new doubles' teams.
It was no surprise Merced swept the doubles matches.
"The key to being successful in this tournament is quality depth, and you get that by playing the 6-3 format," said Vaughn, noting the MMC is going to shift to 6-3 next fall.
It's a move MMC coaches have been calling for, but one the school district was slow to respond to because of concerns about travel costs for Vaughn and his 12 players.
"It will make us better prepared for the playoffs, but it also will allow us to get more kids on the court," he said.
Cook, Vicky Chau, Preeti Bangalore and Luz Romo are the departing seniors. Cook played No. 1 singles the last two years, and that spot could go to Synclaire Waldron next fall -- the junior was the Panthers' No. 2 player this fall.
Cook beat Lizzie Sofranck 6-0, 6-4 and Waldron rallied to beat Stephanie Isenberg 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 -- but Gierhan was the only Panther to earn a win.
"What's wonderful is the spirit these girls have, for tennis and Modesto High," said Vaughn. "I think it's like six years now since Modesto lost a tennis match in the MMC, but these girls never felt the pressure of that streak. They just had fun."