By Jessica Hall, special to USTA.com
The Middle States Section women’s 40 & Over 3.0 team credits a number of things for helping them advance to this year’s USTA League National Championships in Tucson, Ariz. One of them is their team mascot – a gnome.
The Frog Hollow OMG (One More Game) team out of Lawndale, Pa., has been together three years, but they just started the tradition of carrying around a gnome to every match with the beginning of this year’s USTA season in April.
Team captain Mindy Buckley credits her squad’s undefeated record (16-0) to the gnome, Tennisocity, because they have been successful since the tradition started.
“We started bringing Tennisocity to every match and we kept winning, so we made it a tradition,” said Buckley, 44.
“We take him along to daily activities including horseback riding, shopping, swimming and even playing musical instruments.”
In Buckley’s fourth year of playing, this year marks her first time at USTA Nationals.
“I came in to this tournament most excited about the experience,” Buckley said. “I wanted our players to look around and be proud of themselves for making it this far. We have enjoyed every moment and played our best.”
In reality, Tennisocity is just part of the secret to the team’s success. The gnome has furthered the bond between teammates, and it is that closeness off the court that has translated to success on it. In fact, Buckley said the most important aspect of USTA Leaugue play for her has been forming lifelong relationships with her teammates and their families.
“Our team loves to socialize together off the court,” Buckley said. “Many of our husbands come to watch the match, postseason especially, and have formed relationships with each other, so we all get together on the weekends and celebrate our success this season. They’re all my best friends.”
And in this case, the friends extend to teammates, friends, family and gnomes alike.