Aditya Subramaniam and Cameron Trentz were doubles partners only once during the season.
Still, Pleasant Valley tennis coach Randy Brockhage had no concerns pairing Subramaniam and Trentz, both seniors, together for Monday afternoon's Class 2A state quarterfinal against rival Bettendorf.
"I don't get too hung up on partnerships being together a long time, and Cam brings an energy that you just don't get from a lot of tennis players," Brockhage said. "That's a quality I recognized early and utilized often."
Subramaniam and Trentz clinched PV's first trip to the state semifinals in 16 years with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 triumph at No. 3 doubles to secure a 5-4 dual win.
The dual lasted nearly 4 1/2 hours and concluded at dusk.
After the teams split six singles matches, PV won a pair of doubles matches in the third set to hand Bettendorf just its second loss of the year in 20 duals.
"They caught us today," Bettendorf coach Matt Edwards said. "We knew all along this was a three-step process. We got them in the dual and at MAC, but beating a team of this caliber three times is very, very tough."
Bettendorf swept Davenport North 5-0 and PV defeated Davenport Central 5-2 in the substate finals.
Brockhage admits last year's team had more talent with four-time conference champion Charlie Humes at the top of the lineup.
And this year's PV squad had to overcome season-ending injuries to two starters in Justin Sehlin and Dan Bastola.
Toss in the close loss to Cedar Rapids Washington a year ago and PV was quite ecstatic after Subramaniam and Trentz prevailed.
"This means more to me than going to individual state," senior No. 1 Sriram Sugumaran said. "This is the first time this group has even been there."
Subramaniam and Trentz delivered in singles and doubles.
Subramaniam avenged a super tiebreak loss to Bettendorf's Mike Pyevich at the conference tournament with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory that squared the dual going into doubles.
"Every time I go against him it is a grind," Subramaniam said. "At MAC, I hit a lot of short returns off his serve. My mentality this time was to keep the returns deeper and that worked."
In doubles, Bettendorf's Isaac Luebke and Yash Singh, now 19-0 on the season, beat Sugumaran and C.J. Roethler 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.
PV answered in the other two doubles matches.
Vincent Gnad and Nathan Wong outlasted Jozef Porubcin and Pyevich, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, at No. 2.
The dual came down to No. 3 doubles. After splitting the first two sets, Subramaniam and Trentz dictated the deciding set to beat Jacob Panjwani and Nick Ratigan.
"You've got to bring that intensity," Trentz said. "Our mentality was get in their head and have no fear going into this match.
"Before the third set, I told (Subramaniam), 'Hey, we have a big chance here to make history. Let's buckle down and put the pedal to the metal.'"
Trentz was a starting linebacker on PV's football team. The Spartans missed out on the postseason this past fall.
He'll get to experience a state atmosphere next Tuesday at the Prairie Ridge Sports Complex in Ankeny.
"This was the most emotion I've ever felt," Trentz said. "This is probably the biggest moment in my sports career."
And Trentz was glad to share it with Subramaniam.
Even though they haven't played together frequently, they are on the same robotics team and been friends since grade school.
"Unlike a few of us, Cam doesn't play tennis year-round," Subramaniam said. "The way he comes in with his football-like mentality and super energetic, he can pick up any doubles partner.
"It isn't always about talent. Attitude matters, and that's what he brings."