Up 3-0 in the first set of her Class 2A regional championship match at Bettendorf High School, Lily Feldman stood in the shade to catch a breather.
“It took you four years. … You’re learning,” Pleasant Valley head coach Eric Crawford stated from the stands.
From becoming more of an offensive player to staying cool during a hot day, Feldman has grown and learned each year, which has culminated in the same result.
The senior Spartan wiped away the competition, not dropping a game, as she clinched her spot in the singles state tournament for the fourth straight year on a warm Wednesday afternoon.
“Once I get into the groove of things, I’m definitely a lot easier on myself,” Feldman said. “It’s hot out today, and I thought I handled the heat pretty well.”
Seeded No. 1 in the singles bracket, Feldman held true to that as she remained undefeated on the year.
The Skidmore College recruit had to wait over an hour before her title match against second-seeded Anya Postnikov of Cedar Rapids Prairie. Having that long between matches, Feldman did some mental research on her opponent.
“I think about their strengths and weaknesses and play a match through my mind,” she said. “I did that today after a lot of my matches.”
PV also had their top-seeded doubles team advance to the state meet. Roshni Penmatcha and Kayla Nutt got the better end of Ellie Cahill and Emma Maynard of Muscatine, 6-2, 6-2.
Both duos will be making their first state appearance as doubles partners.
Penmatcha participated in the singles tournament a season ago, but after having success with Kayla’s older sister Emily in doubles two years ago, the senior wanted more of that with the younger Nutt.
“I wanted to play doubles my final year with Kayla,” Penmatcha said. “Our dynamic is great.”
The pair have played very few matches together to fill other spots in their lineup but have gotten frequent practice time together.
Crawford wasn’t worried about teaming them up for the right to go to Iowa City.
“They know each other well enough,” Crawford said. “Even though they don’t have the competition matches, they just keep getting better and better.”
Cahill and Maynard have played together for the majority of their careers but have faced obstacles this season, with Maynard splitting time between track and tennis and Cahill missing time with a rib injury.
Still, they put it together to win their second round and semifinal matches in straight sets.
“Last year we were just a game away from making it, and that was really hard,” Cahill said. “We’ve always had it in the back of our minds what we wanted to work towards.”
Feldman has been through this stage with little competition before as she enters the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex vying for her first state championship in singles.
Finishing second, fourth and third in the previous three tries has driven Feldman and after Wednesday, said she has a ton of confidence this could be her year.
“I need to handle my nerves better,” Feldman said. “I’ve been in the semifinals every year, so I’ve been in the high-intensity atmosphere.
"At state, it’s so nerve-wracking. I just need to remind myself that I can do it and get over that hump by being confident.”