Yanid Colon and Larry Torres represent the Caribbean section's 2.5 women's team.
© Juan Ocampo
By John Freeman, special to USTA.com
Rancho MIrage, Calif. -- For Yanid Colón, it wasn’t tennis that brought her together with her boyfriend, it was a trip to a Costco in her native Puerto Rico.
"We just smiled at each other at the same time and that’s how it started," Yanid recalls of that fateful shopping trip. "Now, a year later, he’s my tennis teacher and we’re playing in the USTA national championships. It’s been a very exciting year for us."
Her coach, Larry Torres, directs the Caribbean section 2.5 women’s team, which traveled some 12 hours to reach the USTA National Championships in Rancho Mirage, CA. The team reached the finals with two USTA Caribbean region titles to its credit.
"I’m totally amazed we’re here playing in the finals," said Yanid, a bank accountant in Guaynabo, some 10 minutes from the Puerto Rican capitol of San Juan. "I never expected this to happen so fast, especially since I’d never played."
What’s the key to the team’s sudden success?
"Well, to tell you the truth, it’s because Larry is the best teacher in the world," said Yanid with an easy smile. "I know he’s the best boyfriend."
Larry, a 4.5 player who handles sales and marketing in Puerto Rico for Kellogg’s cereals and Keebler brand cookies, said his players have had trouble adjusting to the desert’s dry heat that exceeds 100 degrees on-court. More humidity, a lot more, would make it feel more like home.
"Here, it’s very difficult for us to even breathe," he said. "It’s so different than what we’re used to. For us, your body stays cooler when it’s more humid."
Despite the heat, the effervescent Yanid wears a constant smile, even during her matches.
"I really enjoy sharing this whole experience with Larry and my teammates," she said.
"I love to smile all the time, no matter what, so being here makes me very happy. That’s just how I am."
And exactly what about playing tennis makes her happy? "It’s all about being able to share this sport with Larry," she said. "That’s the most important thing in my life right now. Tennis unites us even more than ever."