Oct. 29, 2013
Get to know more about Katherine in this Q&A:
Q: Last semester you transferred in from Miami (OH). How does Pitt compare to your last school?
A: "For starters, the campuses are complete opposites. I moved from a rural college town to an urban campus, and I definitely prefer urban because it reminds me more of my home in Miami, Florida. Also, at Pitt there is a much stronger focus on both athletics and academics. Pitt's emphasis on making us successful student-athletes makes for a great balance. Finally, Miami (OH) is in the Mid American Conference, so coming to an ACC school was a step up competition-wise. Pitt is a better fit for me and I feel like this is my home."
Q: How did you decide to come to Pitt?
A: "I decided pretty late (in November) that I wanted to transfer out of Miami (OH). My freshman year made me realize the importance of having a strong coach-player relationship, so I wanted to find a school with a coach that made me excited to play for him or her. When I looked further into Pitt as a school, I also fell in love with the campus and the girls on the team."
Q: Because there were no freshmen on the team last year, this is your first year being an upperclassman. How does it feel?
A: "When I came on the team the older girls, including the current seniors (Kimmy Borza, Jocelyn Lu and Taylor Washington), were so helpful and made me feel extremely welcome at Pitt. I learned from them how important it is to take underclassmen under your wing and help them adjust to their new environment. Our freshmen, Audrey Ann Blakely and Lolade Ogungbesan, have handled the transition really well. Practices and conditioning have been really tough on all of us, but we have all pushed each other and have formed a strong bond as a hardworking team."
Q: Before the start of this fall season, you had not competed in a college match since your freshman year. How does it feel to be back?
A: "I had to sit out of match play last season because of my transfer, but taking that time off really made me appreciate actually being able to compete for my school. Going into every match, I'm more excited than I have ever felt to have the opportunity to play. We have done well as a team this fall season, and I am really proud to have been a part of that. I know that we are only going to get better and stronger as the year goes on."
Q: You grew up in Miami, Fla., and lived less than one mile away from the beach. How has the adjustment been moving north?
A: "I definitely miss my family and being so close to the ocean, but the adjustment to Pittsburgh weather has actually been fun. I am one of very few people who feels excited when I see snow in Pittsburgh. During the winter, I look like the Michelin Man with the amount of layers I wear under my coat, but I really don't mind. If anyone wants to go sled riding with me -- let me know!"
Q: Coach Alex Santos spent the last few years coaching at Miami. Do you two talk about your hometown often?
A: "We always have debates about which Miami restaurants are the best. For the record Los Dos Palmas has the best Cuban food in Miami -- not Versailles. Don't listen to Alex!"
Q: We hear you come from an athletic family. Tell us about your siblings.
A: "I have a brother Antonio (18) and sister Olivia (17). Athletics have been a big part of my family's life. Antonio is a gymnast and my sister is a dancer and they are both extremely flexible and athletic. My brother is actually one of the best gymnasts in the country. He placed 11th in the country at the Junior Olympics in Portland, Ore., last year. He is now a student-athlete at the University of Nebraska and he loves his freshman year so far. I am a proud big sister!"
Q: What is your favorite thing about being on the Pitt tennis team?
A: "Definitely my teammates! You can't choose your teammates, but you can choose your friends, and I'm happy to say that the girls on my team are both. We always have each other's backs, on and off the court. I think we have perfected the balance of working hard and pushing each other while also having a blast together. We also have an amazing coaching staff."
Q: Coach Santos asked every girl on the team to pick one word that describes Pitt tennis. What was your word?
A: "My word was grinders! By that I meant that we never give up, we run down every ball that is hit to us, and we always are prepared for a fight. Alex always reminds us to go on the court with the mentality that we are willing to wear our opponents down no matter what."
Q: Where in Oakland are we most likely to find Katherine Castro if you are not on the tennis court or in the classroom?
A: "If it is snowing you'll find me in Schenley Park making igloos, unless it is Tuesday -- then I'll be at Qdoba having $1.50 tacos."
Q: Other than tennis, what is your favorite Pitt sports team to watch? Do you have any favorite players?
A: "I have been going to all the Pitt football and Pitt soccer games! On the soccer team, I'm a big fan of Chris Davis. He has a British accent and great flow. For football my favorite players are Adam Biznowaty and Gabe Roberts. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can grow a beard like those two."