Cash Hanzlik was 16 and at the peak of his tennis game as the No. 2 player in the nation when he opted to go to junior college in Tyler, Texas.
Why? To turn pro as soon as possible.
To achieve this, he passed the baccalaureate at 16 and graduated in 2020. But due to his lack of game, he was not recruited by pro agents.
ASU men’s tennis head coach Matt Hill called Hanzlik ASU’s top rookie of 2022, and Hill has wanted him to sign up since the COVID-19 pandemic began. So he gave Hanzlik two choices on what he should do if he wanted a full scholarship: either go back to high school for three years or go to college for a year and a half to earn an associate’s degree.
“The choice was simple and I chose to go to Tyler on a full scholarship,” Hanzlik said.
Hanzlik, who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, quickly became one of the best young players in the Pacific Northwest at a young age. He came to the attention of the United States Tennis Association when he was just 14 years old.
“The Pacific Northwest was generally weak for tennis, so once I became one of the best players in my section, the USTA came calling,” Hanzlik said.
The USTA facility in Orlando, Florida offered Hanzlik the opportunity to travel across the country to practice tennis and further his education. In his mind, there was no other option. The answer was an easy yes.
“I moved there on my own when I was 14 and stayed there until I was 17,” Hanzlik said. “It was just like college, you just do your schoolwork and practice on campus most of the time.”
Hanzlik was fully committed to tennis during his time at UTSA and participated in numerous tournaments across the country. At a tournament, he met freshman Murphy Cassone, and the two clicked instantly.
“We shared several tournaments and played a lot of doubles,” Cassone said. “We really clicked because of our similar backgrounds, both playing tennis at a high level on our own at a young age.”
Hanzlik and Cassone have been best friends ever since, and the pair have similar goals, including a shared goal of playing ASU.
“Murphy is one of my closest friends,” Hanzlik said. “We have a similar mentality when it comes to tennis, and we basically made the decision to go to college together three years ago. Murphy was one of the biggest factors when deciding to come to ASU.”
Hanzlik’s family will be moving to Arizona, so they won’t have to travel far to support their favorite tennis player.
“My aunt just moved to Tucson; I have another uncle and aunt moving to Phoenix next year,” Hanzlik said. “My coach who came to visit ASU with me is opening an academy here in Arizona, everything went well.”
While Hanzlik’s family move has seemingly fallen into place, his placement at ASU is no accident.
“We’ve been following Cash for a long time,” Hill said. “He always had the game to play at the highest level. … He’s a special player, not only as a tennis player but also as a person. He’s really tough and a great competitor.”
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