Coach Burns Plays Major Role in Tennis Legacy

Claire Edgar, Staff Writer, Journalism

Every season Coach Steve Burns takes the tennis players to the trophy case and tells them, “A lot of players before you worked hard to put these trophies in here, and this is your year to add one to the collection.”

Triton Tennis has quite a legacy, and Burns has been an essential part of it for six years.

As a kid, Burns played tennis for ice cream with the neighborhood boys, but he got tired of losing, so while the other boys played football, he kept playing tennis.

He “would hang around the college players and pick up balls for them” in exchange for a match or a few pointers. He remembers, “The next time we played for ice cream, I wasn’t the one buying.”

Burns kept playing tennis in high school, taking a top spot on the team. He reveals that girls were most of his motivation at that time,“I noticed that girls weren’t watching wrestling since a lot of them played tennis, and I didn’t like getting my face smashed into the mat,” he said.

Burns is now the proud United States Tennis Association (USTA) President for Wisconsin and coaches a men’s team. He, in fact, will be playing for the United States 55’s championship in Indiana soon.

“It’s tough as a coach to take highly skilled players with low morale and motivate them to believe in you and believe in themselves,” says Burns, “and it’s sad when a player doesn’t listen and quits on their team, themselves and their school.”

Burns creates a healthy, competitive environment on his teams, encouraging players to fight for their spot on the team, frequently raising the level of that team.

Since he coaches both the girls and boys, he has to use multiple approaches. He explained, “Obviously I can be more blunt with the boys, (but) when the girls believe in me, they will fight as hard if not harder than the boys.”

He hopes to take the girls to state this year, but his plans after this season are unsure.