By Sue Levine, special to USTA.com
Injuries are just the price of doing business on the court for the 2.5 women in the Caribbean Section. There are only five women on the team, so they know they have to try harder.
Captain Nydia Ayala and Co-Captain Eilein Ruiz are neighbors, and they decided to get a team together for the community. They play out of the city of Caguas, which they say is the heart of Puerto Rico.
Part of their strategy to make up for their smaller numbers is to be prepared. They practice in the rain, the heat, and the wind, so they know what to expect in any type of weather. Team member Alexandra Rivera says , "we don't train to play, we train to win."
They also compensate by supporting each other in a big way. Ayala, who is also celebrating her birthday today, didn't get injured on the court. She twisted her knee doing a victory cheer when two of her team members pulled out a big win.
However hard they train and cheer, the team members play even harder. Their grunts and hyper style of play earned the team the nickname "The Gorrillas." Rivera says for these five women it's not enough to just win, "we want to destroy the opponent."
The team's battle plan is working: It's only their first year together, and this scrappy group made it all the way to the USTA National Championships in Rancho Mirage, CA.