ELDRIDGE — Matt Edwards woke up Friday morning anticipating a down-to-the-wire tussle between Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley for Mississippi Athletic Conference boys tennis supremacy.

What transpired even had the Bulldogs' coach in awe.

Bettendorf won four super tiebreak matches and collected championships in seven of the nine flights to capture its first league crown in six years at North Scott's tennis complex.

"That was not in my calculations," Edwards said. "Those guys just battled for us today. We're beginning to peak."

Bettendorf came into the day with a one-point lead over PV. The Bulldogs finished with 24.5 points, 5.5 clear of the Spartans to end their four-year reign.

"We've always been in the shadow of PV," Bettendorf senior Michael Pyevich said. "It feels good to finally break free from them and be the best team in the MAC."

Pyevich had the clinching point.

Locked in a super tiebreak with PV's Aditya Subramaniam for the No. 4 singles title and a large throng of spectators watching, Pyevich scored the final two points for a 5-7, 6-1, 1-0 (10-8) win.

It was the second consecutive league championship for Pyevich, a three-year varsity player.

"It was such an amazing feeling, such a rush," Pyevich said. "I could barely stand up because my legs were shaking so bad.

"We practice supers all the time. It got us ready for this moment."

Bettendorf made a habit of winning tight matches.

Jacob Panjwani pulled out a 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (11-9) win over Davenport Central's Andrew Shie in the No. 2 singles final. Isaac Luebke earned a half-point with a 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (14-12) triumph in the third-place match at No. 1.

Then in the No. 1 doubles final, Luebke and Yash Singh were down a set and trailed 5-2 in the second to Central's Joseph and Andrew Shie before rallying for a 2-6, 7-6, 1-0 (15-13) win.

"We haven't faced too much adversity this year," Singh said. "I think when we faced it, the first few games we were losing, it was just a shock. Then at 5-2, it's like, we've got nothing to lose right now."

The Shies fell behind 7-1 in the super, but stormed back to tie and even had four match points. Luebke and Singh overcame each one.

"We were a little slow on our feet early in the match and not totally engaged," Luebke said. "Once we picked up the energy, we got more confident."

PV's Sriram Sugumaran earned his fourth MAC singles title. After winning three at No. 2, he upended Joseph Shie 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 1 finale.

Sugumaran is the second PV player to win four conference championships in back-to-back seasons. Charlie Humes did so a year ago.

"I played smart with the wind," Sugumaran said. "My game relies on how I play with my mind more than my strokes."

Sugumaran outlasted Shie throughout the match in long rallies.

"I have gotten a little more patient with my shots," he said. "I used to be more aggressive early in the point. Over the years, especially today, I needed to wait for my opportunities."

The Spartans have lost two starters — Justin Sehlin and Dan Bastola — to season-ending injuries. Even so, PV came into the day right on Bettendorf's heels.

Edwards' team responded.

In addition to Panjwani and Pyevich, Singh (No. 3) and Jozef Porubcin (No.5 ) won singles titles. The Bulldogs swept all three doubles flights.

"It has been so frustrating the past few years, but this year we felt this was our best chance, our best team from top to bottom," Luebke said. "We had a ton of close matches, but when it came down to it, we pulled through."

Edwards' voice cracked with emotion afterward congratulating his team in the huddle. Minutes later, a couple of his players doused him with a cooler of ice water.

Bettendorf admits there are bigger meets looming. It squares off with third-ranked Linn-Mar today, followed by districts and then team substate.

"Never with our team will this be a defining moment," Edwards said. "We've got a four-word principle — light, loose, humble and hungry.

"And we're hungry for bigger things. The MAC is just one chapter in all of that."

0
0
0
0
1