Fueled by support from her community and her own knack for self-motivation, Caitlin Cass is ready for whatever the future brings her. An avid tennis player and Newcastle native, Cass’s talent for tennis continues to shine in Lincoln County, as the 19-year-old volunteers, teaches lessons, and gives back to her community.
Cass, who graduated from Lincoln Academy in 2021, began her tennis career at the CLC YMCA at the age of 6.
“My mom keeps saying that I got into it for the outfits, but even if I did, it was the community of the Y that absolutely kept me around,” she said.
While Cass’s interest in tennis began as a typical after school activity, it quickly became more than just a fun way to hang out with friends. “I realized I could be good at it, and then I kind of became more motivated,” Cass said.
The endless opportunity for improvement is what Cass loves about the sport, as well as the individual aspect of playing.
“I love being out there alone and having to figure it out, with your teammates cheering you on on the sidelines,” she said.
Cass certainly had many of these moments in her time playing tennis at Lincoln Academy, including the Class B state championship in 2018, her freshman year, where she won the winning match and brought Lincoln to its first state title.
“Lincoln had never won states before, it was 2-2, and my match was the deciding match, and I won, and there were just so many people there,” Cass said, remembering how teachers, friends, and community members came to support the team.
In Cass’s four years at Lincoln, the girls tennis team went on to win another state championship, as well as three KVAC championships.
Cass credits much of her success in the sport to the coaching staff at the Y and other community members who have supported her since she began playing tennis.
“So many people, out of the kindness of their heart, have helped me out so much, and I feel like that’s kind of unique to our community,” said Cass. “There’s just a feeling like everyone’s looking out for you.”
While Cass spends a majority of her year in New London, Conn., where she attends Connecticut College, she has returned to Lincoln County to work and to enjoy the summertime. She has spent this summer as the head tennis instructor at Christmas Cove in South Bristol, leading tennis lessons for adults and children.
Cass enters her junior year at Connecticut College this fall, where she plays on the tennis team.
“My goal was always to continue playing in college, and it allowed me to continue my tennis journey. I love my team, and they’re some of my best friends on campus … it’s been really fun traveling as a team,” she said.
The sports recruitment process was difficult for Cass. While it did not turn out the way she thought it would, she is happy with the result.
“I didn’t get into the college that I wanted to, because the sport recruitment process is super complicated, but now that I’m at Conn, I love it,” she said. “When I got that deferral, and then rejection, I was super upset, and didn’t know how my future would unfold, but now it all worked out.”
Cass has more to look forward to in her future, as she will be spending her next semester of school abroad in Athens, Greece, studying at the American College of Greece.
“It seemed like a great place to go to experience a different culture … I’m very excited for the opportunity,” she said.
Cass will be playing on the tennis team at the American College of Greece to prepare for her spring season at Connecticut College.
Much of Cass’s motivation when it comes to tennis comes from herself and her passion for improvement.
“Being able to improve at something is such a great feeling,” Cass said.
As for her personal growth, Cass has noticed a change in her confidence as she’s grown up.
“As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’m a lot more willing to just go up to someone and start a conversation,” she said. “I’ve learned how to be more confident in myself, and I also want to help others become more confident in themselves.”
Cass is currently an English major and economics minor, and hopes to get a job in marketing and communications in the future.
“I want to move to a big city for a couple years, and hopefully get a job there,” she said.
In the meantime, Cass hopes to always stay involved in tennis.
“I’ve worked in tennis almost my whole life, and I think I’ll always have the possibility to continue … I definitely want to keep volunteering and giving back to the sport,” she said.
While Cass appreciates the more individual element of tennis, the community aspect of the sport is what continues to bring her back.
“Honestly, so much of what I love about tennis is the people around it. I wouldn’t still be playing tennis if it wasn’t fun,” she said.
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