Sandee Ortiz knows tennis. For the past 21 years she coached both the boys and girls programs at Delavan-Darien High School, building a resume´ that many Wisconsin coaches revere.
Ortiz takes over for Chris Wilke at Sun Prairie this season. The 1998 UW-Whitewater graduate who played both tennis and softball for the Warhawks, will be a health teacher at Sun Prairie High School.
“I feel very honored to be coaching at Sun Prairie High School,” said Ortiz. “I know the standards are high for both academics and athletics; it’s a thrill to start at a new program.”
Ortiz inherits a program that includes seven players with varsity experience. They include seniors Kanitta Fakthong, Kaia Feldman, Mackenzie Shanahan and Jordan White, along with juniors Lauren Hope Bruemmer and Renee Katta.
“The players are really committed, they’re really excited and we have great leaders coming back,” Ortiz said.
The Cardinals finished fifth in the Big Eight last season, scoring 16 points at the Big Eight Meet. The highest finish came from the No. 1 doubles team of Bruemmer and Feldman, who placed second.
That duo went on to qualify for the WIAA State Meet. In their lone match, Bruemmer and Feldman rallied to win five-straight games and took the set 7-5, before losing a heartbreaking 12-10 third-set tiebreaker to Franklin as their season came to an end at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
Bruemmer will return to No. 1 singles, and already the junior has made a statement winning the Dane County Invite.
“Lauren’s not only one of our best players but she’s a leader even though she’s just a junior,” said Ortiz of Bruemmer, a two-time WIAA state qualifier. “I feel she could get on the podium this year in Madison.”
The varsity also includes senior MaKayla Murphy; juniors Brynn Boutelle, Abbie Mott, Riley Brower, Hunter Heuer, Kirstin Heuer and Sydney Wilson; sophomore Alexandra Stein and freshman Lauren Schmitz.
Rounding out the list of Sun Prairie players are senior Anna Davis, Abigail Krier, Natalie Rullman and Sobia Farooqui; juniors Adrian Jones, Fanta Jatta, Amanda Stehly, Kayla Ayers, Kayla Betthauser, Kaylee Betts, Jacquiline Duarte, Erica Halvorson, Dulce Hernandez, MiKayla Metcalf, Sophia Salinas and Evangeline Kouraichi; sophomores Ananya Balchukuru, Abigail Blatter, Taylor Larson, Gabriella Levinga, Cassandra Stone, Nina Suzuki, Npliaglias Vang, Tiara Barksdale, Tuyla Pappathopoulos and Lauren Leick; and freshmen Reagan Schwartzer, Aynsley Hansen, Mairin Leary, Natalie Skar, Milaa Bevons, Raina Borgardt, Jaliyah Cummings, Allison McDonough, Leah Schroeder, Alexis Shemanek, Sophia Shemanek, Carly Smith and Cordelia Vigil.
“One of the things I’m focusing on as a coach is mental toughness and teaching kids how to practice that skill; as a coach, I shouldn’t be able to see the difference in winning and losing when they come off the court,” said Ortiz. “One of my biggest philosophies is that kids need to play with great sportsmanship and also need to be mentally tough.”