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Clutch doubles delivers Prairie its first girls' tennis state title

Class 2A girls' tennis team state tournament: Prairie Hawks (19-0) survive Urbandale in semifinal, then overwhelm unbeaten Pleasant Valley

CEDAR RAPIDS – Cedar Rapids Prairie girls’ tennis coach Scott Leggat just hoped to get his girls to doubles play.

After grinding out a 5-4 victory over Urbandale in the Class 2A team state semifinal, Leggat knew his Prairie Hawks had a tall task waiting in the final with a well-rested and undefeated Pleasant Valley bunch.

Turns out, the girls had it all along.

“I’m just dumbfounded,” a jubilant Leggat said after Prairie completed a perfect season and won the first girls’ tennis state championship in school history, 5-3, Saturday at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center. “The girls fought all day long. Like I said, if we get to doubles I feel pretty good. They came through.”

Prairie (19-0) would not have survived the Urbandale semifinal had it not been for a gutsy effort from the Hawks’ doubles duo of sophomore Anna Postnikov and junior Karleigh Schilling.

Once Prairie’s top doubles team of Magui Caro and Vale Caro dropped a hard-fought, three-set match, 6-2, 0-6, 10-7 to Urbandale’s Abby Reis and Jackie Kaiser, the 4-4 semifinal was down to a winner-take-all doubles tussle involving Postnikov and Schilling.

“We just had to not let the situation, the surroundings, get to us,” Schilling said. “Just play our game, just play fundamental tennis.”

Alone on the court, with the overflow crowd hanging on every point, Postnikov and Schilling rallied after a first-set loss and delivered the Hawks to the championship round in another super-tiebreaker, 3-6, 6-3, 10-4.

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“I just ignore the crowd and focus on every point,” Postnikov said. “I wasn’t that nervous. I knew that we could win.”

Schilling, Magui Caro and senior Lauren O’Brian collected singles victories in the semifinal. O’Brian and Renner teamed up for a 6-3, 6-3 doubles win over Urbandale’s Maddie Trow and Emma Kohls.

In the final, Prairie traded victories with Pleasant Valley throughout singles play, with four of the six matches extended to three sets.

After Postnikov and Magui Caro notched wins in singles, O’Brian delivered a pivotal 6-4, 7-5 victory over PV senior Sarah Oswald at No. 5 singles that sent the final to doubles, deadlocked at 3-3.

Magui Caro and Vale Caro charged out in the first set of doubles, 6-0, against PV sophomores Lily Feldman and Roshni Penmatcha. After trailing for much of the second set, the Caro sisters closed with four-straight games and Prairie was within a match of the state title, 6-0, 6-3.

“When I saw that they were up and then they won, I said, ‘OK, we got this,’” Schilling said.

Again, it was up to Postnikov and Schilling to clinch, and they did so in resounding fashion, 6-2, 6-0 against PV juniors Hannah Humes and Emily Nutt.

“They weren’t the ones we thought would step up and get it done, but they carried us throughout the day,” Leggat said.

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With the state title in tow, Schilling and Postnikov waited for their charging teammates to join them on the court for a raucous celebration.

“It was so cool,” Schilling said. “I’m never going to forget it.”

Prairie won just three duals four years ago. Now, seniors like Magui Caro and O’Brian graduate as state champions.

“It validates all of our hard work that we’ve we put into this season,” Postnikov said. “Always practicing, even if it’s raining. It makes everything worth it for this moment.”

Pleasant Valley (17-1) ends the season as state runner-up for the second year in a row. Urbandale won the third-place match, 5-4, over Boone.

CLASS 2A STATE TEAM TENNIS

At Cedar Rapids

(Veteran’s Tennis Center)

Semifinals

Pleasant Valley 5, Boone 1

C.R. Prairie 5, Urbandale 4

Championship

C.R. Prairie 5, Pleasant Valley 3

Third Place

Urbandale 5, Boone 4

C.R. Prairie 5, Urbandale 4

Singles — Abby Reis (U) def. Vale Caro, 3-6, 6-1, 1-0; Magui Caro (CRP) def. Maddie Trow, 6-2, 6-0; Karleigh Schilling (CRP) def. Emma Kohls, 6-3, 6-3; Lauren O’Brien (CRP) def. Morgan Staub, 6-4, 6-0; Brooke Dannenfeldt (U) def. Maddie Renner, 6-3, 7-5.

Doubles — Reis/Kaiser (U) def. Caro/Caro, 6-2, 0-6, 1-0; Schilling/Postnikov (CRP) def. Trow/Kohls, 3-6, 6-3, 1-0; O’Brian/Renner (CRP) def. Staub/Dannenfeldt, 6-3, 6-3.

C.R. Prairie 5, Pleasant Valley 3

Singles — Lily Feldman (PV) def. V. Caro, 6-3, 0-6, 1-0; M. Caro (CRP) def. hannah Humes, 6-4, 2-6, 1-0; Emily Nutt (PV) def. Schilling, 6-3, 3-6, 1-0; Postnikov (CRP) def. Penmatcha, 7-5, 6-3; O’Brian (CRP) def. Sarah Oswald, 6-1, 7-5; Abi Paravasthurasmesh (PV) def. M. Renner 6-3, 3-6, 1-0.

Doubles — Caro/Caro (CRP) def. Feldman/Pencatcha, 6-0, 6-3; Schilling/Postnikov (CRP) def. Humes/Nutt, 6-3, 6-4;

CLASS 1A

At Waterloo

(Byrnes Park)

Semifinals

Waterloo Columbus 5, Camanche 0

Creston/OM 5, Decorah 4

Championship

Waterloo Columbus 5, Creston/OM 0

Third Place

Decorah 5, Camanche 1

Waterloo Columbus 5, Camanche 1

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Singles — Olivia Fain (WC) def. Page Edens, 6-2, 6-2; Lauren McManus (WC) def. lea Lefebure, 6-3, 6-1; Taylor Hogan (WC) def. Kylie Phillips, 6-0, 6-0; Frannie Roche (WC) def. Alexa Devries, 7-5, 6-1; Breanne Eighme (WC) def. Natalie Goble, 3-6, 6-1, 1-0; Marly Bussa (C) def. Karlee Sinnott, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0.

Creston-OM 5, Decorah 4

Singles — Jenna Taylor (COM) def. Kally Peterson, 6-4, 7-5; Alli Thomsen (COM) def. Kelsey Kruse, 7-5, 6-1; Anna Spencer (D) def. Sydney Dunphy, 6-1, 6-1; Annika Krieg (D) def. Gracie Russell, 6-3, 6-4; Carina Yee (D) def. Ann Waigand, 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles — Taylor/Thomsen (COM) def. Peterson/Schwartzhoff, 6-1, 6-1; McIlravy/Dunphy (COM) def. Yee/Kruse, 6-1, 2-6, 1-0; Spencer/Krieg (D) def. Russell/Waigand, 6-0, 6-1

Decorah 5, Camanche 1

Singles — Edens (C) def. Peterson, 6-4, 6-2; Yee (D) def. Lefebure, 6-1, 6-2; Kruse (D) def. Phillips, 6-0, 6-1; Spencer (D) def. Devries, 6-3, 6-1; Krieg (D) def. Goble, 6-1, 6-0; Yee (D) def. Bussa, 6-3, 5-7, 1-0

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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