Sports Person of the Week
Sortito Finds Her Stride Between the Baselines
Emily Sortito earned her spot as a No. 1 doubles player for the East Haven girls’ tennis team this spring, while also leading the Yellowjackets as a senior captain. (Photo courtesy of Emily Sortito)
Emily Sortito was encouraged to join the East Haven girls’ tennis team by Head Coach Dave Oshana when she was his student in science class as a freshman. Emily saw continual growth on the court as the years went by and finished her Yellowjackets’ career as both a senior captain and one of club’s No. 1 doubles players.
Emily had never played any organized sport prior to starting high school. Coach Oshana convinced her to give tennis a shot and, while she was reluctant at first, Emily grabbed a racquet and quickly realized how much she enjoyed the sport.
“I had the coach as a science teacher, and he encouraged me to try it out. At first, I didn’t know. But I ended up going, and I ended up loving it,” Emily says. “At first, it was hard to get the hang of it. But I practiced a lot and loved it. It was always just fun.”
Emily played both singles and doubles at the JV level in her freshman season. Emily’s experience as a freshman taught her what she would need to do to succeed in her new sport as her career unfolded.
“It was a lot of fun. It taught me a lot about teamwork and how much you have to depend on other people,” says Emily. “It showed me how hard you have to work. You just have to be committed.”
As a sophomore, Emily made the jump to the varsity level. She was primarily a member of the Easties’ doubles lineup, but also saw some time on the singles court. Emily’s rise to the varsity ranks gave her an up-close look at her toughest competition yet.
“It really helped me prepare myself. It trained me to what it was like actually playing varsity,” says Emily. “It’s one thing to play JV, but varsity, you’re playing with girls who play all year-round. It’s challenging, but it teaches you to be a better player.”
Coming back as a senior this year, Emily was penciled into the No. 1 doubles role alongside junior Camryn Lendroth. Emily loved playing doubles, because it allowed her to play up at the net.
Emily was surprised to get the nod to play No. 1 doubles, but felt that she had earned it after working so hard during her first three years in the program. Emily practiced as much as she could, even if it meant just hitting against a wall.
“I practiced a lot. Even when I was playing JV or other girls were playing, I would play against the wall. I just kept practicing,” Emily says. “I just really loved it, and it was something for me to get my mind off everything else. It just clicked.”
In addition to getting promoted to No. 1 doubles, Emily spent the 2021 season leading East Haven as a senior captain alongside Doreen Alberino and Siya Patel. With many people on the team playing tennis for the first time, Emily and her fellow captains made sure that everyone was connected and stayed focused on improving their skills.
“I really encouraged the girls, especially with everything going on in the world. I wanted to make them feel happy when they went to practice,” says Emily, who will attend Gateway Community College to pursue a degree in accounting. “A lot of the girls were new. We really had to teach them, step up, and be a coach to them.”
Emily will remember her time with East Haven girls’ tennis for the teamwork and camaraderie that everyone displayed during her senior year. Emily says that the Easties always stuck together, cheered each other on, and were constantly there for one another in any circumstance.
Emily feels grateful that she decided to step on the tennis court as a freshman. Competing for East Haven was an experience that Emily will always cherish and one that helped unlock her potential.
“It taught me a lot. It’s fun, and it’s something I’m always going to remember and love,” Emily says. “It means a lot to me. It means I tried hard. It wasn’t easy to get to doubles No. 1. All the hard work paid off.”