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Family Memories Help Inspire UCLA-Bound Catanzarite

Ava Catanzarite glances down at the blue and gray bracelets on her right wrist every time she grips her Babolat Pure Aero racket. They provide perspective and remind her to take nothing for granted.

Blue Chip Ava Catanzarite Has Committed to UCLA
© Derrick Tuskan Photography

Catanzarite wears the rubber bands to honor her two cousins who died a year apart. Brooks Watkins was a 21-year-old baseball player and suffered an accident at his home in 2015. Michael Trella was a 15-year-old lacrosse player who died in his sleep in 2016.

Along with the memory of her grandparents, Catanzarite finds inspiration from the joy they brought to her life and the void their deaths have left unfilled.

“Every time I step on the court, I play for them,” Catanzarite said. "I just wish I could have told them that I committed to UCLA. Obviously they are looking down on me and are happy for me.”

Family has always been at the heart of what drives Catanzarite. One of the major attractions to UCLA for the blue-chip rising senior from Pittsburgh was the connection she felt with head coach Stella Sampras Webster and current Bruin players that went beyond just tennis.

"Stella was talking to me about how family-oriented the team was and how that pretty much shapes their team and who they are,” Catanzarite said. “I talked to a few girls over Zoom, and they were just so welcoming and supportive. I just knew it was a group of girls I wanted to be a part of."

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Page updated on Saturday, May 08, 2021
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