Portola Pilot

Saachi Pavani, an Ace for Varsity Girls’ Tennis

With+determination+in+her+eyes%2C+Pavani+swings+a+powerful+backhand+to+launch+the+ball+back+to+her+opponent.+Known+by+her+teammates+to+be+friendly+and+playful+off+the+court%2C+during+matches%2C+she+develops+a+more+serious+and+focused+tone+that+reveals+her+competitive+nature.
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Saachi Pavani, an Ace for Varsity Girls’ Tennis

With determination in her eyes, Pavani swings a powerful backhand to launch the ball back to her opponent. Known by her teammates to be friendly and playful off the court, during matches, she develops a more serious and focused tone that reveals her competitive nature.

With determination in her eyes, Pavani swings a powerful backhand to launch the ball back to her opponent. Known by her teammates to be friendly and playful off the court, during matches, she develops a more serious and focused tone that reveals her competitive nature.

Ajinkya Rane

With determination in her eyes, Pavani swings a powerful backhand to launch the ball back to her opponent. Known by her teammates to be friendly and playful off the court, during matches, she develops a more serious and focused tone that reveals her competitive nature.

Ajinkya Rane

Ajinkya Rane

With determination in her eyes, Pavani swings a powerful backhand to launch the ball back to her opponent. Known by her teammates to be friendly and playful off the court, during matches, she develops a more serious and focused tone that reveals her competitive nature.

Annie Qiao, Features Editor

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The satisfying strikes of tennis balls making contact with rackets and the squeak of tennis shoes ring through the air. In the center of the action is varsity girls’ tennis player and freshman Saachi Pavani, easily recognizable by her passion for her sport and perseverance.

Pavani began playing tennis when she was eight and started competing at the age of 10. She says she credits her humble beginnings as a tennis player to participating recreationally with her older sister, and after she saw her sister win a competition she felt motivated to compete as well.

Now, she competes in tournaments every week and spends over two hours practicing per day, but her lengthy experience as a tennis player has been marked with physical and mental obstacles throughout the years.

“I used to struggle with confidence issues while competing, which kept me from finding success for a long time,” Pavani said. “I was able to get over some rough patches by telling myself that I would succeed eventually if I just kept at it.”

Pavani began her first season of high school tennis with an injury on her left abdominal muscle that prevented her serves from reaching the high standard she has come to expect of herself. Despite this physical challenge, she has striven to regain the quality of her serves and grown as both an athlete and person as a result.

“Having Saachi on [the] team helps us to feel more confident, motivated and encouraged,” doubles player and junior Kaylee Seo said. “We get to see better play, and we learn to apply what we learned to improve our own play.”

One particularly inspiring moment from Pavani came in a recent match against the reigning league champion and University High junior Camille Brown in the quarterfinals of the Pacific Coast League Championship. Head coach Natasha Schottland encouraged Pavani to have fun, but Pavani still fought to make the match as difficult for Brown as possible. Despite Pavani’s loss, coaches from both teams commended her mature play, good sportsmanship and persistence.

“While competing, I remind myself to never give up because I can always come back from a disadvantaged position in a match,” Pavani said. “I also avoid underestimating or overestimating my opponents because no matter their reputation, it all comes down to how I play that day.”

Throughout the season, Pavani has competed against talented individuals like Brown and suffered disappointing losses, but her commitment to hard work and drive to succeed are trademark qualities of her work ethic as a player.

“[She] gives 110 percent because she doesn’t want to let her team down. Even though we’re new and we’re in one of the toughest leagues for tennis, she really wants us to win,” Schottland said. “I know that she really drives herself to show other teammates and other teams what we can do if we give 110 percent.”

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Saachi Pavani, an Ace for Varsity Girls’ Tennis