Same teacher, new titles

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 6:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 9:24 a.m. CDT
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(Herald Photo by Mark Johnson)
New Morris girls tennis coach Becky Ortega will open her first season as head coach this week when the Redskins begin practicing.

Becky Kopycinski became Becky Ortega this summer, and the one-time assistant boys tennis coach also became the head girls tennis coach at Morris Community High School.

Ortega is entering her fourth year as an MCHS Spanish teacher, though the 2013 boys tennis season was her first as a coach in any capacity. When the school sought a replacement for Luke Windy in the head girls position, she decided to apply.

MCHS Athletic Director George Dergo says Ortega was the best fit of the three applicants. She will not return as a boys assistant.

“She seemed to be the most qualified and was in the building,” Dergo said of Ortega. “She’s got some experience. It’s a shot for her, as a young coach, to coach our girls team. It should be fun for her. She’s ready to get into it.”

Ortega should be able to relate to players who join the team with little or no experience, as she joined the team at Plainfield South High School with such a background.

“My interest in tennis started the summer before my freshman year of high school. I wanted to get involved in something, and I thought tennis sounded fun,” Ortega said in an email. “I did not play competitively before high school.”

Success came quickly for Ortega. She was the Suburban Prairie Conference champion as a freshman and placed second in the conference her sophomore year.

While Ortega was a four-year member of the tennis team, her prep career was derailed when an injury forced her to miss most of her senior season. Ortega did not play college tennis, though she says she has continued to “occasionally” play the game.

MCHS is the first school at which Ortega has taught, and she has not done any coaching outside of tennis at the school.

“It was a great start to my coaching career,” Ortega said of her year with the boys team. “The thing that appeals to me most about coaching is being able to recreate the atmosphere that I experienced in high school. Our tennis team was like our family, and I would like to take the same approach with the MCHS team this fall.”

Leah Lines, an MCHS junior who qualified for state with her doubles partner, Monica Davy, in 2012, says she has never had a class with Ortega.

“We talked a little before the summer started. She seems like such a nice lady and a great coach too,” Lines said. “I think other people who have had her for Spanish have liked her, teaching-wise. The boys have talked about her a little bit, and they gave some positive feedback.”

Even those that know Ortega well may not know exactly what to expect from her as a head coach.

“Since it’s still early on in my coaching career, my coaching style is still developing,” Ortega said. “I like to be 100 percent prepared and have everything planned prior to each practice, so in that sense my style is rigid.”

Ortega, who is from Joliet but lives in Mokena, married her high school sweetheart this summer. One of her passions is traveling, which she says is largely due to five months of studying she did in Granada, Spain in college.

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