© Andrew Ong
By Matt Birch, special to USTA.com
Tucson, Ariz. --- When the men’s team from Florida are on the courts this weekend at the 2011 USTA Adult League 4.0 National Championships, enthusiastic shouts of "¡Vamos!" can be heard around the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center.
Team member Cesar Nuñez explained that his Florida team was inspired to use the Spanish term (which translates to "Let’s go!") as a theme because Rafael Nadal - whose rabid fans chant "¡Vamos Rafa!" anytime he plays tennis - shares their Hispanic background and passion for the sport of tennis.
Nuñez added that it was important to the team to embrace the mix of the many Latino cultures represented in Southern Florida and show Latino pride on the tennis courts, especially now, in the midst of National Hispanic Heritage Month. They were also excited to bring their talents from South Florida to Tucson, which also has a large Hispanic population.
This theme even has a physical presence on the sidelines, as the team worked with the USTA Florida section to make small banners which say "¡Vamos!" on one side and "Let’s Go!" on the other. These banners are displayed by the team’s family members and friends who came along to Arizona to cheer on the group this weekend.
The members of the team, which play out of the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla., have known each other for almost two years, but this the first year they have played together on the same team.
Fueled by their energy, passion and emotion, the group has bonded quickly under team captain Jose Lopez, as they have reached the National Championships in their first year together.
The dominant language for most of the members of the team is Spanish, which they feel can give them an advantage this weekend since they may be able to communicate with each other on the court without their opponents understanding what is being said.
Victor Araujo, who shares a Venezuelan heritage with teammate Nuñez discussed why the team has taken to shouting, "¡Vamos" after each point.
"We did not do it to intimidate our opponents," he explained. "We use it to pump each other up. We need to stay focused at all times while we are on the court. By yelling ‘¡Vamos!,’ it pumps us up."
The rally cry has been successful this year for the Florida men, and they plan to continue displaying their passion and emotion for tennis in the years to come.