For inspiration, Leah Wurm admits to glancing at the sign on the fence of the tennis courts at South Junior High.
It’s a list of all of Tech’s state tournament appearances. Getting a “2012” added to the sign has helped the St. Cloud Tech junior get through some tough moments.
“It really has been a motivation,” Wurm said.
Get out the paint.
Tech is headed to its 16th state tournament this week. The Tigers play third-seeded Prior Lake at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus.
While the Tigers are enjoying their first state appearance since 2005, they know little about Prior Lake, which qualified for its first state meet since 1991.
“I don’t know much at all,” Tech head coach Paul Bates said of Prior Lake. “We’ve never played them in our history and never seen them in tournaments. We have no common opponents, either.”
Bates does know that Rosemount, Eagan and Apple Valley are all good teams in Prior Lake’s section.
He also knows Prior Lake is a young team.
“I think it might be good, going in there with a clean slate,” said junior co-captain Alexie Portz.
That unfamiliarity doesn’t seem to faze the Tigers, who are enjoying the moment.
“I’m excited,” sophomore doubles player Jill Kedrowski said.
The Class 2A tournament was seeded for the first time by coaches of the teams participating. The top five seeds were announced and the final three teams’ opponents were selected randomly.
Edina has won 27 state titles and is the No. 1 seed. The Hornets are in the opposite bracket from Tech, so the Tigers won’t seem them until the final.
The quarterfinals are Tuesday. Win or lose, the Tigers play again. If they lose, they play at 6 p.m. Tuesday against the loser of No. 2 Minnetonka and Stillwater. If they win, they play at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The final is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Tech practiced indoors at Fitness Evolution in Sartell last week in preparation for the Baseline Tennis Center, where they’ll practice Monday afternoon before the state tournament banquet.
Besides qualifying as a team, Tech eighth-grader Taylor Tarrolly is playing in the individual tournament Thursday and the Tigers’ doubles team of Wurm and Sam Eisenreich will play in the state doubles tournament.
The players say they aren’t nervous, just kind of giddy about the opportunity to play at state.
“Once we get down there and warm up, it’ll finally hit,” said Eisenreich, a sophomore.
Tech has never won a state title in girls tennis, taking second three times and third twice.
“I think we all hope it’s going to get there,” Eisenreich said.
“We’ll have to play good,” Portz said. “We’ll have to step up to the competition.”
All the players admit to glancing at the sign at South, which lists all the honors achieved by Tech’s boys and girls tennis programs. The girls team has taken second in 1983, ’97 and 2000. The Tigers finished third in ’92 and ’96.
Obviously, they’d like to add to the list of achievements.
“I think it’s really exciting for all of us because it’s been such a big goal for us,” Portz said.