The adage states that it easier to get to the top than to stay at the top. The Highland Trojans are about to find out just how true that proverb can be.
Last season, the Trojans won 24-straight matches to make it to the elite eight state finals. They beat arch-rival Munster twice, including a tense 3-2 regional final. The emotional roller coaster finally ended with a loss to Terre Haute South in the quarterfinal round in Indianapolis.
Highland's hometown heroes had become the Little Train That Could -- and did.
But that was last year. This season, the target on the Trojans backs is as big as a harvest moon. How they handle the pressure of being top dog will determine if they can run with the big dogs.
Coach Adam Baez has turned to senior Liz Quinn to be the calm, steady influence the team will need.
Quinn has played varsity No. 1 doubles all four years. Last year she was named to the all-state first team after being an honorable mention the previous two years. Each year, Quinn has played with a different doubles partner, but each year she has delivered 12 or more wins.
"I'm pretty easy going, so I can get along with whoever my partner is," Quinn said. "Plus I can modify my game to fit different styles. It's not that big of a deal to me."
Her casual, calm way of looking at the game is one of the reasons she has delivered so many crucial points during her tenure.
"Liz has been an anchor on this team for a couple of years," Baez said. "All the other girls look up to her for leadership. Liz can be vocal, but prefers to let her actions dictate. She plays the game the way it should be played."
Quinn has been named the team's captain this year, and looks forward to the challenge.
"I know that it is my time to step up and be a leader," Quinn said. "I want to make sure that the new varsity girls understand how much hard work it took last year for us to get to Indy. We want to go back again, and we can if we all work together."
The Trojans lost three varsity players to graduation, including stalwart Sarah Kitchell. Several JV girls are participating in challenge matches to determine who will play on varsity.
Quinn feels it is part of her job to make the newcomers feel at ease so they can concentrate on their games.
"We have had a very strong junior varsity team the last couple of years," Quinn said. "Whoever moves up will do a great job for us. We have a lot of faith in each other."
That faith will be tested in crucial matches against Chesterton (April 12), Munster (April 21), and Valparaiso (May 4) -- all on the road.
Quinn remained steadfast.
"As a team, we are more hungry than we were last year," Quinn said. "We want to prove last season was no fluke."