When Cavanaugh was a freshman tennis player at UNC Asheville in the spring of 2009, she won a match that made head coach Lise Gregory, a former professional player, so happy she cried.
"It was my freshman year, and we were playing Charleston Southern," commented Cavanaugh. "The match was tied 3-3 and came down to my match. I was in a third set, and I managed to pull it out and it gave us the win."
"Coach Gregory always said the only time she'll cry is when we've made her proud," added Cavanaugh. "And I guess I did that day."
After a promising start to her career, Cavanaugh was slowed down the past two seasons with back injuries. She managed to play in most of Asheville's matches as a junior but this year she could hardly play any singles matches, and even playing doubles was painful.
Despite that pain, the Tallahassee, Fla. native pressed on. She was at every match and tried to play anytime she could. Cavanaugh also served as a leader of a very young Bulldog team in 2012 that had four freshmen playing at the top of its line-up for the last half of the year.
"As the only senior, I wanted to show our team that you have to always be there and be supportive of your teammates," said Cavanaugh. "If you can't play, you stay and cheer for your teammates and support them in all matches. You win as a team and you lose as a team."
Gregory is in her fifth year as the head coach of both the men's and women's program. She was named Big South Women's Coach of the Year in 2009 and earned the men's award in 2012. The South African native played on the pro tour for a number of years and won nine tournament titles. She then coached the Florida State women's team from 1996 through 2004 and went to the NCAA Tournament seven times.
"Devon is a wonderful leader and has been her entire career," declared Gregory. "I hate that she was hurt the past two years. However, Devon was still a part of the team and was at every match leading both on and off the court."
"This season was a tough one (6-16, 0-8 in Big South) but our young players learned so much thanks to Devon's leadership," added Gregory. "Our program is in good shape for the future because of these young players learning from Devon."
While Cavanaugh has been a leader for the Bulldog tennis program both on and off the court, she's been a leader in the classroom and community as well. Cavanaugh has been an excellent student and maintains a 3.5 GPA in Psychology. She will graduate in May and will attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania next fall studying Sociology.
Cavanaugh has been a vocal leader with UNC Asheville's SAAC program. She has worked with Eliada Homes in Asheville, which is a foster home that works with children. Cavanaugh worked with her SAAC members to get presents for the children at Eliada Home this past Christmas, and she hopes to do more of that when she graduates from Penn.
"What I want to do is work with children and get them to work in a team concept," stated Cavanaugh. "I've seen how it works for me as a tennis player and with our team. If we can work with children and get them into more team concepts, we'll make a difference."