CLINTON — Her parents advised her to sit this one out. Her coaches tried to talk her out of taking the court Tuesday.
Lily Feldman was not having it. She wanted redemption.
"I'm very stubborn," she admitted.
The Pleasant Valley junior played through a balky back to upend Bettendorf's Emilia Porubcin, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, for her second consecutive Mississippi Athletic Conference tennis tournament title at the top singles flight.
PV won seven of the nine finals at Clinton's Max Lynn Tennis Courts for the second consecutive season to compile 25 points and earn the program's fourth straight league championship.
Coach Eric Crawford's team, in fact, has won 76 of 81 matches at the MAC tournament the past three seasons.
The Spartans, though, were tested in several of the championship matches. In addition to Feldman, Roshni Penmatcha won 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) at No. 4 singles and Abi Paravasthuramesh needed a super tiebreak to prevail at No. 6.
"It is great we got pushed," Crawford said. "We need to get pushed as often as we can. It makes us tougher for when we get into the state tournament."
Feldman injured her back serving at practice late last week.
After rolling through two singles matches Monday and PV already having the team title secured, Crawford suggested she default and recover for the upcoming postseason and avoid re-aggravating the injury.
But for Feldman, she wanted to avenge a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Porubcin from two weeks ago in the teams' dual.
"I knew if I left the door open at all, she would play," Crawford said. "She's a super competitor."
Feldman could not get much pace or spin on her serve. Still, she was able to serve deep into the box and leaned heavily on her forehand to keep points going.
And she took plenty of Advil to alleviate the pain.
"If I try a kick serve, it hurts," she said. "If I try to put too much pace on it, I could risk hurting it even more."
Porubcin dictated the match early, but Feldman stormed back and won a first-set tiebreaker. She carried the momentum to a straight-set win, the third time the two have met in the MAC final at No. 1.
"Our matches are always so close," Feldman said. "It really depends on who gets up and who maintains it. It is almost a mental game."
Sisters Emily and Kayla Nutt also won singles titles for the Spartans. Emily Nutt teamed with Penmatcha for a No. 2 doubles crown while Hannah Humes and Paravasthuramesh cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 triumph at No. 3 doubles.
PV hasn't lost a dual meet all season as it opens team regional play Saturday morning. The Spartans have finished second at the Class 2A state tournament each of the past two seasons.
"We've been really good at creating a balance between enjoying what we're doing and also focusing on not getting ahead of ourselves," Emily Nutt said.
Bettendorf's Hannah Borgh prevented PV from obtaining a perfect score.
Borgh outlasted Humes in the No. 2 singles final for the second consecutive year with a 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (11-9) victory. She teamed with Porubcin for a 1-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-8) win over Feldman and Kayla Nutt at No. 1 doubles.
"For my last MAC (tournament), it was really satisfying to play the way I did," Borgh said.
Borgh has won three MAC singles titles and two in doubles. She and Porubcin have held the top two spots in the Bulldogs' lineup each of the past three years.
"She's my best friend," Borgh said. "I absolutely love playing with her. We just click. Winning MAC my senior year with her, probably my last match with her, it was amazing."
Clinton finished second to PV with 13 points. Davenport Assumption and Muscatine shared third with 10.5 points. The River Queens had runner-up finishes at four of the nine flights.
PV, though, was a step above the field. Again.
"We're determined," Feldman said. "We really want to make an impact for the rest of the state to see that we can do it this year."