A Lookback at Men's Tennis' Murphy Cassone's Standout First Season
Written by senior sports journalism student Cassie Campise and mass communication graduate student Jenna Nabors, students working for Sun Devil Athletics in the Public Relations Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Murphy Cassone has been playing tennis since birth.
"Pretty much since I was in diapers. My parents just threw the racquet in my hand and then had me on the court," Cassone said.
The No. 1 high school prospect out of Kansas had several offers and visited many different Division I schools, but it was the coaching staff at Arizona State University that resonated most with him the most.
"I went through a lot of ups and downs with tennis in high school and Matt Hill and Dominic Cotrone stuck with me," said Cassone. "That stuck out to me the most and I felt the most value. And Matt believed in me the most, as well."
Through hard work and dedication to the game, Cassone's first season at ASU as a true freshman was full of accomplishments. Although he faced challenges, he overcame them with a growth mindset.
Cassone had limited tournament experience coming into college, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, at the end of his freshman year, he has played in multiple national tournaments and was named a member of the 2022 United States Tennis Association Summer team.
"He's made a huge, huge jump in one year," Hill said. "It's been really impressive to see and makes it exciting to see where he's going to be in another year."
During his first season, Cassone spent the majority of his time at the tennis courts on campus. Hill said, oftentimes, the coaching staff would have to pull him off the court to get him to take a break.
"His desire to be good and his professionalism in his day-to-day work ethic is unmatched," Hill said. "He has a different motor than your typical kid on the team, even at an elite Division I school, he kind of has another level. He's willing to be out there all day every day if he has to."
Year One Highlights
Cassone's standout match he is most proud of is when he beat the No. 1 college tennis player at the time, Auguste Holmgren from the University of San Diego.
"Just having that win with my coach was really meaningful to me," Cassone said.
The match was also a turning point for Cassone. He learned the importance of playing stress free and focusing on the game in front of him.
Hill's most memorable match of Cassone's first year was beating No. 9 in the country Daniel De Jonge from Pepperdine, despite having a leg cramp during the match.
"Somehow this young kid finds a way to win the match on essentially one leg. And you're just sitting there going 'okay, this guy is a different breed, you know?'," Hill said. "It's the little moments like that, that give you a window into how much drive he has, how much pain he's willing to deal with and all these little intangibles that only the top players that I've worked with have."
Cassone ended his first season on a nine-match winning streak and went 15-5 in singles and 10-9 in doubles. In early June 2022, it was announced he won the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, ITA Southwest Rookie of the Year and the ITA National Rookie of the Year award.
"It was just a really good feeling knowing all the hard work that was put in led to that," Cassone said.
Guy's been unstoppable all year, so this is no surprise. ?? pic.twitter.com/XlUXSlUzE0
— Sun Devil M. Tennis (@SunDevilMTennis) May 4, 2022
Murphy Cassone is the greatest rookie in all of collegiate tennis ??
— Sun Devil M. Tennis (@SunDevilMTennis) June 13, 2022
Heading into his sophomore season, Cassone is ready to help lead the team to success.
"I think we're going to be a really good team and pretty dangerous next year," said Cassone. "Our new guys coming in are really motivated and great guys overall."
Cassone is mostly anticipating the addition of friend and doubles partner Cash Hanzlik, who will be joining the team in the spring 2023. With their history playing together in national tournaments over the summer, the two are ready to dominate on the court.
"This year, I think we're all going to be on the same page and do what we think is best as a whole, group collective," Cassone said.
Hill is looking forward to seeing Cassone have more of a leadership role on the team on and off the tennis courts. He hopes to see Cassone have a voice inside the locker room and to push his team to success and pick up his teammates when they are struggling.
Hill is also confident that Cassone will lead the team by example.
"He's going to show you what it takes, how hard to go, what the work rate looks like and what the commitment level looks like," Hill said.
What offseason? Murphy Cassone is tearing up Little Rock this week ?? pic.twitter.com/pp7bjxq2cr
— Sun Devil M. Tennis (@SunDevilMTennis) June 1, 2022