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Centennial’s Sagiv battles wrist injury to reach tennis tournament | Sport




CHAMPAIGN Aviv Sagiv isn’t 100 percent sure what’s wrong with her right wrist.

She has an upcoming appointment with the genetics department at Carle Foundation Hospitals and hopes that answers will be given to the pain she feels completing the most mundane tasks. Like writing and typing.

But before that, the Centennial senior has a tennis tournament to compete in. A rather important one.

Sagiv will team up with Chargers sophomore Sandhya Subbiah in doubles at the Class 1A girls’ state tournament that begins Thursday in suburban Chicago. Sagiv and Subbiah open the game against the No. 11 seed, Bloomington Central Catholics Maggie Ames and Lauren Emm.

I was happy to qualify for state, Sagiv said Wednesday, less than an hour before he left for Champaign for the state tournament. I’ve done it before, but I think this year was the most important for me because I went from not playing at all to going all the way to state, which is crazy.

Last fall, Sagiv was advised not to play tennis during her junior season. Sagiv decided to participate and in fact would have moved up to state in Class 2A doubles with then-senior Leah Luchinski, had the state tournament not been canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another doctor’s check after her junior campaign led to a grim determination: She shouldn’t play tennis at all.

My bones move too much, Sagiv said. The only problem we have now is that they don’t know what caused it. If you look at an X-ray or MRI, everything looks fine. But of course I can’t do many things.

After briefly trying to learn tennis as a left-hander, Sagiv knew it wouldn’t come close to playing with my right hand. Sagiv admitted that Chargers coach Teri Scaggs offered Sagiv the chance to become Centennials team manager.

It was very hard to accept at first, Sagiv said. I can pick up any skill very quickly, but I’ve never stuck to anything. Tennis was the only thing I held on to. It was heartbreaking to hear that I couldn’t play, especially in my senior year.

Sagiv adjusted to her new role with the Chargers. As one of only two four-year seniors on the roster, she became a go-to option for teammates seeking advice.

I can’t lie: Every time I saw my friends play, I wish I was on the pitch too, Sagiv said. It was a little hard to watch. But I took comfort in the fact that at least I’m here.

It didn’t take long for Sagiv to quickly become more than just a leadership presence.

Scaggs needed eight athletes for Centennial to compete in a tournament in September, but she only had four at her disposal as the event quickly approached.

Aviv said: Maybe I can play. And I said, Aviv, you’re not supposed to play, Scaggs said. And she said, I was going to ask you if I could play senior night (September 29 against Champaign Central).

Sagiv did take the field with junior Yehyun Nam ranked No. 2 in doubles against Normal Community on September 28 and again against Central on September 29. Sagiv remembers the previous game well.

My coach said when I left the field, you looked like you were about to cry. Is that because you lost? Because your wrist hurts? said Sagiv. I was like, no, coach, I’m just happy to be back on the field. They were tears of joy.

Scaggs elevated Sagiv to No. 1 doubles alongside Subbiah for a Sept. 30. dual with Danville.

I looked at her that day and said, “If we were going to do this, we should have played you double all along, but we didn’t even know it was an option,” Scaggs said. She tried to practice a few times, and it was painful for her. It was probably a shock to her wrist. But… she will have some painful days and some non-painful days. It’s completely her decision.

Sagiv agrees with her coach. She has to keep her wrist taped during matches and wears a specially designed brace when she is not on the field. Some of her first tennis-related actions this season, she said, resulted in her experiencing a lot of pain afterwards, and that scared me.

But Sagiv is fully committed to her final tennis preparatory season as it stands.

It’s all been worth it, she said. I had one volley where it was a backhand and I had to jump to get it, and it was a winning shot. The other team was shocked. They made a sound like, Whoa, and I missed that feeling.

Sagiv and Subbiah took the Danville duo of junior Lexi Ellis and sophomore Brooklynn Behrens each to three sets in a 1A singles state qualifier during the Big 12 Conference doubles tournament on Oct. 8.

This performance was likely a major factor in making Sagiv and Subbiah the No. 2 seed in the 1A Danville Sectional doubles over the past few weeks, behind only Vikings juniors and eventual champions Josie Hotsinpiller and Ava Towne.

She has really good strengths in places where I have some weaknesses, Sagiv said of Subbiah. I’m better in the net while she’s good in the baseline so that balances itself out. But we both know we should come to the net if we need to. … And we take no offense at each other. Sandhya can tell me anything I’m doing wrong, and I won’t take offense.

Sagiv and Subbiah defeated Watseka senior Ashton Peters and junior Baler Rigsby 6-0, 6-0 in the sectional quarterfinals to officially qualify for state. It will be Subbiah’s maiden voyage, as Sagiv was allowed to compete in the 2019 2A state doubles tournament as a sophomore alongside then-senior Cayla Risinger.

It was great to see (Subbiah) light up when she realized she qualified for the state, Sagiv said. She feels a little nervous about the state. Me, not so much.

It feels a bit like a big sister on the team. … I feel I have a lot to share with her, and I hope, if she wants to, to share it all with her.

Sagiv and Subbiah finished third in the section, falling short of Danville junior CiCi Brown and freshman Reese Rundle in the semis before sending off St. Thomas More seniors Audrey Horn and Nora Kelley. Scaggs hopes Sagiv/Subbiah and Brown/Rundle can meet for a rematch at some point in the state aid.

But Scaggs also acknowledges that all that is happening for Sagiv is in the state of gravy, as Sagiv was a team manager with no viable route to play about a month ago.

If I were a senior and this was my sport, I would do everything I could to compete for my final season, Scaggs said. It was a great opportunity for her, and I think she started to get a little more excited about everything.




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