Get to Know the Athletes Representing Kansas in the USA Games’ Tennis Competition
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games kick off June 5 in Orlando, FL. For one week, more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from the U.S. and the Caribbean gather for fun and friendly competition while also celebrating the love of sport.
When it comes to the tennis competition of the USA Games, we’re beyond proud to say that the state of Kansas will be incredibly well-represented by five talented athletes that hail from the Sunflower State: Casey Hostetler, Brandi Fogg, Michael Kanter, and Wesley Hillard, all of whom will be coached by Sid Kanter, Michael’s father.
Learn more about these athletes, including how they got their start in tennis and what they love about the sport, below.
Meet the Athletes
Casey Hostetler, Haysville, KS
Casey started playing tennis seven years ago. It was her sister, who played sports at school, who inspired her to play–in fact, Casey and her sister have played as a unified doubles team since then! She loves playing tennis because it’s fun, and she enjoys the competition and the exercise, as well. Casey has a goal of playing tennis in all 50 states, and has already played in California, Washington, South Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Missouri, and Indiana. Soon, she will be adding Florida to her list!
Casey is thrilled to be heading to her second USA Games (her first was in Seattle in 2018, and she also played in the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles), and looks forward to meeting people from different places and showing what Kansas athletes can do.
In addition to playing tennis, Casey also enjoys bowling, running track and field events, playing basketball, volleyball, and cornhole.
Brandi Fogg, Wichita, KS
Brandi has been playing tennis for six years. She was looking for a sport she could play in the springtime that wasn’t running track or swimming, so she picked up a tennis racquet–and the rest is history. “Tennis is so much fun to play,” Brandi said. “It’s quick-paced and the score can change quickly.” Brandi is also very excited to play in the USA Games. “It’s so awesome,” she said. “This is a cool opportunity and I’ll be representing Team Kansas in tennis alongside my best friend, Casey [Hostetler].”
- Casey Hostetler
- Brandi Fogg
- Michael Kanter
- Wesley Hillard
Michael Kanter, Overland Park, KS
Michael is a “chip off the old block,” per his father, Sid. Sid was a Missouri Valley-ranked tennis player as a junior, and Michael has followed a similar trajectory. Michael started taking tennis lessons at 10 years old; he is now 46 with some incredible accomplishments under his belt, including multiple singles wins at the Kansas Special Olympic State Games in Wichita, three appearances at the Special Olympics National Games, and a national doubles title. Michael has been playing Special Olympics tennis for over 30 years.
Tennis isn’t Michael’s only specialty, however. He also won gold medals in bowling at the 1995 World Games in New Haven, CT.
Wesley Hillard, Wichita, KS
Wesley has been playing tennis since he played in his first Special Olympics at 8 years old. Twenty-three years later, he’s heading to his first USA Games, and he couldn’t be more excited. “I love representing Kansas,” he said. “This is my first time doing it, but I love it and I’m looking forward to having fun and meeting everybody.”
In addition to playing tennis, Wesley enjoys playing other sports in the offseason, including basketball, volleyball, bowling, bocce, and cornhole. However, he appreciates what tennis has to offer. “I love having fun and playing with other athletes and helping them [play],” he said. “And I love my coaches, who help me with my serves and volleys. They also teach me how to keep going and not get frustrated.”
When it comes to participating in the Special Olympics and its events, Wesley is very grateful to the organization for all it does for individuals with disabilities. “Special Olympics is a good program to have for those with disabilities. It brings [people] out and teaches them things about sports,” he said. “You will enjoy [participating in] the Special Olympics. You can have a lot of fun.”
Sid Kanter, Coach, Overland Park, KS
Sid has coached the Kansas Special Olympics National Team four times and was the head coach for Team USA at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. His wife (and Michael’s mom), Nan, started the Blue Valley Special Olympics organization in 1988 and continues to lead it to this day.
Blue Valley Special Olympics currently serves over 160 athletes across 14 sports. The tennis program itself serves over 60 athletes, making it the largest tennis program in Kansas and one of the largest in the U.S.
Good luck from all of us at USTA Kansas!
Please join us in celebrating these players in their achievements. We wish you all good luck and a wonderful experience at the USA Games! Keep an eye out for the USA Games commercials airing locally in Kansas in the run-up to the event to learn more.