Eastern Women's Team
© Andrew Ong
By David Novich, USTA.com
TUCSON , Ariz. – During breaks between matches at the 2009 USTA League 3.5 Adult National Championships at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz. most of the players choose to snack on a banana – known for its potassium and high fiber content.
But for the Eastern women, one fruit is just not enough.
The players, known as “Team Fruity”, have adopted sweet nicknames to keep them energized and relaxed.
The team includes; Liz “the Lime” O’Connor, Le “the Lemon” Yang, Paige “the Peach” Arthur, Susan “the Strawberry” Fung, Hiroko “Pineapple” Hayashi, co-captains Ayako “Apple” Mintodani and April “Apricot” Preston Harris.
The fruits are a running joke, used to remind them that even in tough matches, they’re out there to have fun.
“You are playing to win,” said Mintadoni. “But you are laughing, you are being silly.”
Over the summer, Preston Harris and her doubles partner were behind at the regional championships, and came back to win after taking out their namesake fruits.
“We took out our fruits as inspiration,” said Preston Harris.
A few of the players have opted for non-fruity nicknames that are just as tasty:
Nicole “Slaw” Tavernier, Jami “Jellybean” Roth, and Aarthi “Almond” Srinivasan. Teammate Lidija Tomas’ fruit name has yet to be determined.
But that’s all good, because what’s important, say team members, is that that the fruits have united them in their first ever trip to Nationals. And it doesn’t hurt that they are great nicknames, that help relieve the tension during competition. .
“It’s just a fun thing,” said Arthur. “You’re out on the court and you hear people call out your fruit.”