ANKENY, Iowa — It was a fitting conclusion.

Hannah Humes and Emily Nutt are best friends, seniors and have been doubles partners since about the third grade.

They walked off the court at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids last June with tears rolling down their cheek after losing in doubles of the state team final against Cedar Rapids Prairie.

Humes and Nutt weren’t going to let it slip away Saturday.

After dropping the first set, Humes and Nutt rallied for a 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-4) triumph to secure Pleasant Valley’s 5-3 victory over Dowling Catholic for its first Class 2A state team championship in girls tennis at the Prairie Ridge Sports Complex.

“It is so special, the greatest feeling,” Humes said. “When we were nine or 10 years old, we didn’t go to the same school. We never imagined this would happen.

“To clinch that victory, with one of my best friends on and off the court, it is everything.”

It capped a perfect dual season for the Spartans at 18-0.

Coach Eric Crawford’s team was state runner-up to Des Moines Roosevelt and Prairie each of the past two seasons.

With five starters returning, this was PV’s opportunity to get over the threshold.

“I felt more pressure this year,” Crawford said. “I felt like this is our last chance with our three seniors. We can be a state-level team next year, but to be at the pinnacle next year is going to be really tough. We’re going to have to have some amazing play from some younger kids to get in that position.”

Just like last year, PV went into doubles knotted at 3.

Nutt admits doubles has been a weakness for the Spartans in recent years. They’ve placed a greater emphasis on it this spring in practice.

“When it came down to that, we knew it was our time to pull through and show the amount of work we’ve put in through the season,” Abi Paravasthuramesh said. “This what we’ve been working toward the entire time.”

PV’s three doubles team of freshman Kayla Nutt and Paravasthuramesh overcame a 4-0 deficit in the opening set to prevail 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

Paravasthuramesh felt the sense of urgency, given she is a senior and had lost in singles.

“If we were going to go down, it wasn’t going to be playing like that,” she said. “We had to push through. Kayla and I meshed together really well, encouraged each other through every point.”

That nudged PV ahead 4-3.

Humes and Emily Nutt caught fire early in the second half. They won the first three games and built a 5-1 cushion before evening the match to force a 10-point, winner-take-all super tiebreak.

“We just kept telling each other, ‘We have to stay aggressive,’” Humes said. “This is the last high school tennis match we’ll ever play. If we weren’t going to go all in now, when else are we going to go all in?

“We really wanted to end this on a really high note.”

The Spartans were the aggressor in the super, winning five of the first seven points. Humes was steady from the baseline. Emily Nutt controlled the net.

On the second match point, Emily Nutt sealed it with a volley putaway.

“There is something about being seniors,” Crawford said. “It is almost like, ‘We’re not going to let this happen again.’ Everybody wants it, but seniors want it just a little bit more.”

Teammates immediately rushed onto the court to celebrate.

PV swept Ames in Saturday morning’s semifinals 5-0. The Spartans were 134-9 in matches during dual competition.

Dowling, which came in undefeated after outlasting Iowa City West in a marathon semifinal, was the first team to take three singles matches from PV in a dual.

However, the Maroons’ No. 2 player, Anna Wanek, did not play doubles because of a heat-related illness.

PV, meanwhile, received singles wins from Lily Feldman, who took third in Friday’s individual state competition, along with Humes and Kayla Nutt.

Afterward, hugs were shared, pictures were snapped and tears were shed. This time, it was tears of joy.

“It is pretty indescribable,” Emily Nutt said. “I’ll remember this feeling forever, something I’ll always have and something that will always bond us together.”


Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.