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A Gift Worth One Thousand Words

Mid-Atlantic gives art work gift to their opponent New England.
Cindi Saadi's work of art which she gave to the Mid-Atlantic team to bring to Nationals.

By Kevin Wittner, USTA.com

TUCSON, Ariz. – When Cam MacQueen and her Mid-Atlantic teammates were planning their trip to nationals, they couldn’t agree on one thing. What should they bring for the ceremonial gift exchange?

It’s an unofficial challenge every year, who will bring the best gift? Tournament staff members recall years when Caribbean teams brought rum; Northern Cal men have been known to bring small bottles of local wine. A Hawaiian team once brought fresh pineapples for all. But Maryland’s signature dish, soft-shell crabs, isn’t in season. What’s a team to do?

At first, they settled on a magnet. They weren’t thrilled with it, but it showed a few pictures of their state.

MacQueen, however, had a different idea. “We thought it would be really nice to have something that the other team could frame as a memento for this, perhaps, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I thought of my friend Cindi Saadi.”

Saadi, a life coach in Lewes, Del., also works as a photographer and an artist.

MacQueen called Saadi and asked her to put together some artwork that would be representative of Maryland.

After collaborating with MacQueen, Saadi came back with a six-by-twelve inch water color painting with elements representative of the team’s home state.

“We wanted to make something special, so that it would highlight Maryland but also include the other teams,” MacQueen says. “We talked about the Chesapeake Bay, our state bird the Baltimore Oriole and our state flower the Black-Eyed Susan.”

The painting features all of these elements, as well as a cactus to recognize Tucson, the tournament’s host city. Additionally, Saadi incorporated tennis racquets showing the names and something unique about the home state of each of the three teams they will face in round-robin play. In the Connecticut racquet, she painted a lighthouse; for Northern California, palm trees and a sun; for Pennsylvania, the state colors of blue and gold.

What resulted is a piece of artwork that the Northern California, New England and Mid-Atlantic teams can take home to remember a special weekend at nationals.

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