Tempe, Ariz. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is pleased to announce the selection of Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) Hannah Kassaie as the 2024 ITA Sally Ride STEM Award recipient, as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy.

“The mission of our Association is to serve college tennis and return leaders of tomorrow,” said ITA CEO, Dr. Timothy Russell. “Our sport, which is ultimately about higher education, develops championship human beings on and off the court. Hannah Kassaie is an exemplar of what is great about college tennis.  She follows in the footsteps of two wonderful Americans, Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy.  I am confident that Hannah will do astonishing things with her life and for her community moving forward.”

As a soon-to-be six time ITA All-American for the Spartans, Kassaie will be honored with a postgraduate scholarship of $8,000 and special recognition during the ITA Leadership Awards Weekend later this summer. Additionally, a $2,000 donation will be made to the CWRU women’s tennis team in her honor. 

“I’m beyond grateful to receive this award, one named after such an accomplished and inspiring woman, scientist, and former athlete,” noted Kassaie. “I can’t thank Dr. O’Shaughnessy and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association enough. Dr. Ride’s accomplishments, and her confidence, are incredible despite the barriers she faced throughout her life.”

Having played tennis since the age of four, Kassaie has always found the sport to be a valuable way to connect with others and an avenue to learn important life lessons that can translate to any sector of her life. In particular, Kassaie credits tennis for teaching her to be patient and to trust the process which she describes as two key skills that translate to her studies to become a physician.

Presented with numerous athletic opportunities coming out of high school, Kassaie decided to enroll at CWRU to fulfill her academic aspirations first and foremost at one of the top universities in the country. Here, Kassaie was not only able to flourish academically, but athletically as well, becoming one of the most storied players in Spartan women’s tennis history.

Throughout her career, she has reached the quarterfinals of both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, has been ranked within the top ten of the ITA Singles and Doubles Rankings, and has been named the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Elite 90 recipient which is given annually to the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers.

“Hannah is so deserving of all of her success,” said CWRU head women’s tennis coach, Kirsten Gambrell McMahon. “She goes above and beyond each day to give her very best to continue to improve both as a person and as a student-athlete. Year over year, she manages to have an even better season and achieve even more on the court. I’m truly so proud of her.”

Kassaie is currently finishing her undergraduate degree in which she is majoring in nutrition and minoring in natural sciences and chemistry. Kassaie has been accepted into the Pre-Professional Scholars Program (PPSP) at CWRU where she will attend the School of Medicine beginning in July 2025.

Meanwhile, over the next year, Kassaie is set to conduct genetics research at the Center of Excellence for Medical Genomics in Bangkok, Thailand where she hopes to not only put her STEM studies into action but continue to teach tennis to others in her free time.

“To be named the winner of this award is truly an honor, and I’m so happy that our team will also be recognized, as they’ve been such an important part of my college experience,” proclaimed Kassaie. “With passions for tennis and STEM, I hope to have the same impact on others as what Dr. Ride has had for me.”

Kassaie now becomes just the third recipient of the ITA Sally Ride STEM Award, joining the prestigious list of winners which includes Mckenzie Ferrari (University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, 2023) and Anna Tifrea (California Institute of Technology, 2022).

“I am beyond happy that Hannah Kassaie is the Winner of the 2024 ITA Sally Ride STEM Award,” said O’Shaughnessy. “Hannah exemplifies everything this award is about—a female student-athlete who has passion and purpose in pursuit of her goals. Sally would love that Hannah, who loves tennis and science just like she did, will be supported in her dreams.”

The ITA Sally Ride STEM Award as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy was created to honor a female student-athlete who demonstrates zeal, dedication, and perseverance towards her tennis training and competition, STEM studies, and long-term goals. The recipient of the award will receive a grant in the amount of eight thousand dollars ($8,000) to pursue her dreams. The award money given to the student-athlete may be used in any way she wishes [e.g., tuition, books, rent, etc.] Additionally,  two-thousand dollars ($2,000) will be donated to the women’s tennis program of the institution from which the award winner graduated.

About the ITA – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body and coaches association of college tennis, both an advocate and an authority for the sport and its members. Comprised of 1,260 colleges and universities, 20,000 student-athletes, 1,800 varsity programs, 3,000 coaches, and 1,350 college tennis officials, the ITA empowers college tennis coaches at all levels to deliver vibrant tennis programs that are vital to their college communities and transformational to their student-athletes. Follow college tennis on the ITA website and ITA social channels on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

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