CLINTON — The saying goes that a team is only as strong as its weakest link.
It might be tough to find any weak link in the lineup for the Pleasant Valley girls tennis team. The Spartans' depth once again was a big reason why Pleasant Valley won the championship at the Class 2A regional dual meet on Saturday at the River Cities Tennis and Pickleball Center.
The event was technically hosted by North Scott but was moved after rain forced things to an indoor venue. The change of venue didn't stop the Spartans from moving to 15-0 in team duals this season as PV took down Bettendorf, 5-2, in the title matchup.
The Bulldogs (5-5 overall) had beaten Clinton (7-4) earlier in the day, 5-3, to advance to face the Spartans.
Pleasant Valley finds itself in the final eight teams and travels to Cedar Rapids on Tuesday to face Linn-Mar, a team it defeated 9-0 earlier this season. The Spartans have been state runners-up the last two seasons but coach Eric Crawford thinks his team has a good chance to get over that final hump.
"We've got two really good players at the top and we don't fall off that much," Crawford said of his lineup. "It's great in practice because I can put our 3-6 players against anybody else and they will push each other. Every player in our lineup is tough."
Crawford points to junior Abi Paravasthuramesh as an example of what the Spartans can send out. Paravasthuramesh won her match at No. 6 singles, beating the Bulldogs' Abby Harrington, 6-1, 6-0 to move her record to 36-0 overall in three seasons of tennis with PV.
"That's quite a hammer at No. 6," Crawford said. "It's nice to have."
The bottom of PV's lineup was just as dominant as No. 3 Emily Nutt, No. 4 Roshini Penmatcha and No. 5 Kayla Nutt lost a total of five games to their opponents in sweeping their matches in straight sets. Bettendorf did pick up wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles play as Emilia Porubcin and Hannah Borgh beat PV's Lily Feldman and Hannah Humes.
But Feldman bounced back to team with Penmatcha at No. 2 doubles to win their match, 6-0, 6-0 to clinch the victory. Paravasthuramesh said the difference this year is the team is motivated to bring home a state title.
"We are all really excited and we want to prove ourselves," she said. "The whole team is focused and we just go out and play like we play in practice. We support each other and try to help everyone improve. We've tried out a lot of different combinations of lineups and our chemistry is great."
The mix-and-match approach this season has toughened the entire lineup.
"Our five and six players play better when they play our one and two players because the game is at a higher level and our five and six players can play the higher level," Crawford said. "When I look at the state, our depth is what is going to be the key."
Bettendorf coach Ron Stout knew his team was going to run into a buzz-saw in the title match but said he was proud of the season they turned in. The Bulldogs did get a little bit of a payback against the River Queens, who beat Bettendorf during the conference dual, 6-3.
Porubcin, Borgh and Mya Christensen picked up wins in singles play for Bettendorf but the match was still tied 3-3 after singles play. Porubcin and Borgh then teamed up at No. 1 doubles to get a win while Kaylin Kuhn and teammate Lydiah Kennedy grabbed a super tiebreak win at No. 2 doubles to earn the win over Clinton.
"Our girls came out really motivated to win the (Clinton) match and we really wanted to play PV," Stout said. "We wanted to show we were a better team than the first time we faced PV (a 7-2 dual loss). I am very proud of the effort."
Clinton got its three wins in singles play against Bettendorf from Justine Lange, Kaitlynn Green and Kaylee Camp.