By Norman Seawright III

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In her senior year, Edina High School’s Nicole Copeland is aiming for her third straight singles tennis championship.

“I think she can do it. It’s going to take a lot of hard work still, everyone’s gunning for her, so she’s got to be ready to handle the pressure and say, ‘I’m ready to kick some butt,'” said Luke Robertson, assistant tennis coach.

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“Walking on the court and thinking you’re going to lose, you’re probably going to lose. You can’t do that to yourself, so I’d say that there is pressure, but I love pressure because it’s a privilege, and I’m happy I got to the point where I am,” Copeland said.

She knows champions have to constantly reinvent themselves to stay on top.

“I’m going to show up and play my game no matter what. If they know me, know that I’ve been playing since I was eight, then great. It’s going to be a good match,” Copeland said.

So even if an opponent tries to keep her from hitting her wicked forehand shot, she’ll find another way to win.

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“She used to be kind of a baseline player, and now she’s starting to move to the net, which is good to see, and putting the ball away,” Robertson said.

Tennis is a mental game, but Copeland’s taking it a day at a time.

“You have to have fun before you make your strategy. You have to make sure you love the game and then develop more,” Copeland said.

She wants to follow her passion to Drake University and beyond.

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“I think I’ll play for the rest of my life. It’s possible to play when you’re 70 years old and your knees are broken down, you can still do it,” Copeland said.

Norman Seawright III