By Jim Rueda
---- — MINNEAPOLIS — Nerves.
Sometimes they can spur you on to better things, and sometimes they can be paralyzing.
For the Mankato West girls doubles team of Andrea Erdman and Julia Snelson it was mostly the latter in the first round of Thursday's Class AA state tennis tournament at the University of Minnesota's Baseline Tennis Center. The duo failed to win a game in the opening set against a team from St. Paul Central and ended up losing 6-0, 6-3.
"We were pretty nervous," Erdman said after the match. "We played tentatively; we weren't as aggressive as we should have been."
The West tandem won the first two games of the second set but were unable to sustain any momentum and dropped to the consolation bracket.
"We were more loose in the second set," Snelson said. "They had one girl (Helen Klass-Warch) who was very good at the net so we had to keep hitting the ball cross court. We didn't go down the line on her too much; that's a very low percentage shot."
West head coach Adam Doll felt the nervousness experienced by his two players was understandable.
"I tried to research it, but I think they might be the first doubles team from West to ever go to state," Doll said. "That's a lot of pressure. It's so tough to get out of our section with Eden Prairie and Minnetonka and Orono and Shakopee there.
"They were definitely on their heels in the first set. We told them between sets to just forget about everything else and go out and have fun. Just step into the ball and take a whack at it."
Round 2 was much more satisfying for the Scarlets as they combined to defeated a tandem from Centennial 6-3, 7-6 (4).
"They played with much more confidence in the second match and worked the net well," Doll said. "Coming out more relaxed was critical in the second match and they did that by winning the first three games of the opening set."
Snelson agreed: "We were a lot looser. We stayed more aggressive at the net.
"They wanted to extend the points and have long rallies so we tried to cut the ball off at the net and end the points quickly. That worked well for us."
Erdman said the strategy when Snelson served was to have her kick the ball out wide.
"Then I would try to cut the angle off at the net. We picked up quite a few points that way."
The West duo plays a team from Prior Lake at 8 a.m. today in the consolation semifinals at the Baseline Tennis Center.