By Nick Wagner
Dominique Cassetori didn’t have a choice when it came to high school sports. She dabbled in soccer a bit, but in the end it was all about tennis.
Dominique and her father, Dominick “Don” Cassetori, each made a name for themselves on the Wyoming Valley tennis scene. Having started at an early age, Dominque dedicated her life to tennis, still playing competitively to this day.
Now 31, Dominique was featured in the Sunday Dispatch’s “Spotlight” section on Feb. 22, 1998. In that month, the Wyoming Area eighth grade had the chance of a lifetime.
The 13-year-old made her professional tennis debut, not as a player, but as one of the chosen “ball kids” at the U.S. Pro Indoor Championship in Philadelphia. The job of a ball kid, for the most part, is to never let a stray ball stay on the court — spectators can see them running across the court or handing towels to players.
Dominique worked that tournament for a few years.
“It was really cool,” she said. “It’s hard not to get starstruck. They would groom us to be the perfect ball kids. Just to be on the court and see that level of tennis was inspiring.”
Early playing years
Being a ball kid wasn’t Dominique’s first introduction to the sports, however. Her father was recently inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame as the winningest Wyoming Valley tennis player with over 30 singles titles and 38 doubles championships.
Don was ranked in the top 20 in Middle States and held the top spot in Lehigh Valley singles. He coached tennis at Wyoming Area from 1990 to 2003, including the four years Dominique was a player there.
Dominique graduated from Wyoming Area in 2002. While she was on the tennis team, Don was her homeroom teacher, her private tennis instructor and her high school tennis coach — all while being her father.
“I was able to mentor her that way,” he said. “Besides being her father, I took all these other roles in her life. When she got the chance to get to the next tennis level, she took it.”
Dominique finished her tennis career at Wyoming Area with a 52-8 record. She played against only boys, reaching the District 2 quarterfinals twice and the semifinals once.
“It was kind of two different worlds for me,” she said. “There was high school tennis and then there was junior tennis. Every since I was a little kid, I was hanging out with my dad and the high school boys. It felt normal.”
Tennis at the next level
Dominique received a tennis scholarship to the University of South Carolina-Aiken, a Division 2 school. That’s when she really fell in love with the game.
In her senior year, Dominique helped the Pacers top out at 16th in the nation. She finished the singles season at 13-9, mostly against international players from the Peach Belt Conference. In doubles, she finished her senior year at 15-9.
In her four years at Aiken, Dominique won 40 singles matches and 49 doubles matches, both in the top 10 in school history. In 2010, she was named to the Women’s Tennis All-Decade Team.
“It was great playing at a different level,” she said. “Everyone was into it and passionate about it. It was nice to be around those people that cared so much.”
As for being chosen for the All-Decade team?
“That was surprising,” Dominique said. “They’ve had some really awesome players. I was pumped to be named.”
While Dominique has played both singles and doubles competitively, she prefers to play singles matches.
She graduated from Aiken in 2006 with a degree in biology and, following graduation from the New York Chiropractic College in 2009, began work at The Joint Summerville in Charleston as a chiropractor.
Her job hasn’t taken much away from her game.
For the past several years, Dominique has played in the Charleston Pro Tennis League as a 5.0 level. Just a few years ago, Charleston was named the United States Tennis Association’s “Best Tennis Town.”
“There is a really great support system of tennis players here,” Dominique said. “It’s perfect and a lot of women are on my level. It’s like a little tennis family.”
Prior to heading into work each day, Dominique can be found on the courts for an early session.
A ‘Four Weddings’ experience
In 2013, Dominique married Jason Mapes.
The couple was featured on TLC’s “Four Weddings” reality show where four unique brides allow a camera crew to document their personal wedding styles and traditions. Each agrees to attend and judge the other’s weddings on food, dress, venue and overall experience. The winning bride is awarded a luxury honeymoon package.
Dominique and her husband missed out on the first place prize by three points. Although coming in second, though, she would not change anything about their big day or the experience.
“It was really fun and everything is pretty much normal,” she said. “I’ll meet people in my work and they kind of hear it from other people, but it hasn’t changed my life.”
Jason brought three children to the family: Savanna, 13; Kaytlin, 10; and Kevin, 8.
“I think we’re good,” Dominique said. “They are awesome.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick