By Matt Birch, special to USTA.com
-- One of the USTA’s strategic priorities is "Diversity and Inclusion." This priority is perfectly personified by the Eastern sectional team from the Chestnut Ridge Racquet Club in Westchester County, N.Y.
The team is competing at this weekend’s USTA Adult League 7.0 Mixed National Championships at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort in Tucson and features representatives from 10 different countries, with eight different languages being spoken by the team members.
The countries represented by the team include: the United States, Jamaica, Romania, Morocco, Barbados, Guyana, Nigeria, China, Italy and Puerto Rico. Most of the team members ended up residing in Westchester because of family, school or work.
The team is diverse in age, in addition to nationality, as they have players ranging from 19 years old to over 50 years old.
The team members are very outgoing and are known for wearing very unique socks while they are competing. Almost all of the team members wear mismatched socks on the court, which feature bright colors and various designs and images.
Team member Judith Norton said that the socks can be seen as symbolism or a representation of the team as being diverse and different.
"Our personality matches our socks," she said. "We’re different, but on the court we play to win and are aggressive."
Team captain Grace Shen-Law explained that the team has "been together for about two years. We’re like a family, and we have feuds," she said. "We have had struggles with personality clashes in the past, but everyone is passionate about tennis. We think it's better that we have a diverse team with different backgrounds."
Norton added that Shen-Law is the "mom" of the team and that the team members are like her kids.
The team felt that they would not have made it to this level without Cesar Gonzalez, whom Shen-Law described as being the mastermind behind the team’s journey to the National Championships.
Danielle Carr felt strongly about the importance and significance of having such a diverse team.
"Our team shows that tennis is a multi-cultural sport now," she said. "It is important to see that everyone from any background can all play the same game. We all speak tennis."
for more information about the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion priorities.