EDINA, Minn. – The Edina girls’ tennis team is used to winning, and with that comes pressure.
“It’s a good problem to have, obviously,” coach Steve Paulsen said.
In 2013, the Hornets won the Minnesota State Championship for the 17th season in a row.
“Last year, we had a fair amount of injuries. Fortunately, every one mended at the right time,” Paulsen said.
Caitlin Merzbacher, a junior who won the state individual championship, returns for her senior season. The co-captain and her teammates understand the pressure they face.
And so does their coach. After 22 years as head coach, Paulsen has seen a couple of different streaks.
In his first year, he led the team to a state championship. At the time, Edina had won 15 straight titles. After four years, Paulsen and his team got back on top and they have stayed there.
He said he believes success breeds success.
“They don’t want the streak to end on their watch, and they are working very hard,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen said the pressure to win is there, but he said he never talks about it.
“I’d like to think we’re a fun group to be with and that the kids want to be there and hopefully they are learning something along the way,” Paulsen said.
He said the goal is to develop each players’ game, to stay consistent and hopefully the success follows.
“I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t pressure. There’s pressure. It’s there, and we just try to deal with it,” Paulsen said. “I try to put pressure on the kids to try and play at a certain level and maintain that certain level, and that’s more of the pressure that I put on the kids.”
If the team can continue to follow that pattern of success, Edina will be back competing for another state championship this fall.
“Obviously, playing at state is a number one goal and hopefully have some fun along the way,” Paulsen said.