Hawai'i Shows Team Spirit at 3.5 Adult National Championships
© Jennifer Pottheiser
By: Melissa Krueger, special to USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. — It's an easy task, trying to track down the women's team that is representing the Hawai'i section at the USTA 3.5 Adult National Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
It can be described as a boisterous cluster of women in blue, complete with their trademark leis. One can probably hear them before spotting them.
For many, playing tennis is all about the competition, the win. For this team, however, it’s about fellowship and camaraderie.
This mindset is reflected in the name of the ladies' team: Tumunog. It directly translates to English as "clang" or "clatter," but on the island, it is used as slang that means "cheers." It's said during toasts or celebrations.
Captain Lovette Llantos came up with the team name because, as she says, the team is a "cheerful and fun team." Each practice is a time to celebrate and spend time together.
And in Hawai'i, according to the women, a celebration revolves around food and drink. Tennis practice serves also as a potluck for the ladies.
What's on the menu? Traditional Hawaiian dishes are served each time, but a Hawai'i favorite, Spam musubi, is a must at the potluck. One player described it as "sushi on steroids." The basic ingredients include a slice of Spam, mounted on a stack of rice, wrapped in seaweed.
According to the team, these potlucks create a sense of unity among teammates, which proves to be important for a team that was described by one woman as a "melting pot." With so many members from all over the country and from different nationalities, this time together is a significant team-building experience.
The family continues to grow, too, as team member Jennifer Torcato is expecting a baby and is playing in the earlier stages of her pregnancy. She and her doubles partner, Kam Oi Wigen, won their first match on Friday, 6-2, 6-3.
Regardless of all the fun the team has together, the women from Hawai'i like to win as well, of course. Like most of the teams in Tucson this weekend, they believe they are the team to beat.