A True Tennis Family

By Emily Casati

I come from a tennis family — and I mean a true tennis family.

My mom played professionally, and my dad played at Northwestern University.

With that background, I was almost destined to play the sport.

There was no surprise when my older sister, Alexis, followed in my parents’ footsteps and played at the University of Illinois.

My brother, Christopher, also played college tennis at DePaul.

As I conclude my college tennis career, I realize how special it has been to all have this journey together and share the common experience of being a student-athlete, specifically playing the same sport that has bonded our family.

A Unique Bond

With my parents heavily involved in tennis, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best at a young age. My dad has always been my main coach, and my mom was always around to offer advice as well.

I’ll never forget the time we spent together on the court, the countless hours of practice, and the memories created on family trips and vacations.

Tennis was our life, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

One of my favorite memories is when we went to Naples, Florida, for spring break. My grandparents had a house there, so we would go every year.

We would all train together, practice, and then spend the rest of the day at the beach. It was such a special time in our lives, and it created a bond that will last forever.

I’ll never forget those moments we spent together.

Finding My Own Path

When the time came for me to choose a college and go through the recruiting process, I knew it would be a challenge.

There were so many great schools and programs to consider.

After visiting my sister at Illinois several times, I fell in love with the campus and the people. Lauren only had great things to say about her experience there and really loved having Evan as her coach.

I knew that’s where I wanted to be, so I reached out to Evan and formed a relationship of my own.

When I was offered a spot on the team, I was ecstatic, and it was an easy decision for me.

With my parents heavily involved in tennis, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best at a young age. My dad has always been my main coach, and my mom was always around to offer advice as well. I'll never forget the time we spent together on the court, the countless hours of practice, and the memories created on family trips and vacations. Tennis was our life, and we wouldn't have had it any other way.

Transitioning to the Team

The transition to college tennis was a bit challenging at first.

Going from playing an individual sport to being part of a team was definitely a change, but one that I embraced.

Now, I can say it’s my absolute favorite part of tennis, and I’m not sure how I made it all those years playing as an individual in junior tennis.

COVID also made my freshman year difficult.

It hit during the spring of my freshman year.

With it came all the restrictions and changes to our season. It was hard to experience college life and tennis in a normal way, but we made the best of it.

As my senior year approached, I had a big decision to make.

Did I want to take my fifth year of eligibility and continue playing?

After weighing my options, I decided that I wasn’t ready to be done just yet. I wanted to do something different for my last year, and I knew it would be an unforgettable experience.

That’s when I decided to transfer to DePaul and follow in my brother’s footsteps.

I was excited to be in a new city and be close to home.

I also knew I would be part of a great program and have the opportunity to compete for a conference championship.

Embracing the Journey

So far, my time at DePaul has been more than I could have hoped for.

I’ve had the chance to be part of an amazing team and build new relationships with my teammates and coaches.

As we continue our season, our goal is to win the Big East tournament and make this year one to remember.

For me personally, I want to give my all and be the best version of myself on and off the court. I want to push myself to new limits and leave it all out there.

I never want to look back and have any regrets.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in tennis and the experiences I’ve shared with my family.

I’ve learned so much about the sport and life, and it’s made me the person I am today.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to push through the pain and never give up. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it in the end.

I know when I’m done with my tennis career, this mentality will carry over into all other aspects of my life. I look forward to my next chapter, but right now, I’m just excited to embrace the rest of the season.

When it’s time to turn the page, I’ll always be grateful for the sport that has given me so much and the family that has supported me every step of the way.

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