TURIN, Italy (AP) — They’ve quickly become some of the most recognizable fans in tennis.
And what began as a spur-of-the-moment idea between six supporters of Jannik Sinner to dress up as carrots has turned into a fully sponsored globe-trotting enterprise.
After first appearing at the Italian Open in May, the orange-clad “Carota Boys” quickly picked up support from one of Sinner’s sponsors and were sent to cheer for their favorite player at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Orders for T-shirts featuring the Carota Boys’ logo have come in from Brazil, Greece, Switzerland, France and the United States.
“It’s all been far beyond anything we could have imagined,” said Carota Boys member Enrico Ponsi.
Last week, the group of six boyhood friends were treated to a private meeting with their idol.
“They’re almost more famous than I am,” Sinner said. “I got the names but I still got a little bit confused, because they have these good looking costumes with the carota.”
“It’s great to have this dedicated fan club. It’s growing, so I’m happy for them,” Sinner added. “It’s funny.”
The carrot idea is partly a tribute to Sinner’s red-orange hair and how he ate carrots instead of the more common banana during a changeover at a tournament in Vienna in 2019. “Carota” is the Italian word for carrot.
While they’ve been around the globe recently, this week the carrots are staying closer to their roots.
That’s because the ATP Finals in Turin is located just an hour’s drive from the Carota Boys’ hometown of Revello.
“Whereas at other tournaments we’ve had to leave after a few days, this one we can attend all week,” Ponsi said before Sinner opened the tournament with a convincing 6-4, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.
So who are the Carota Boys?
They’re all in their 20s — only slightly older than the 22-year-old Sinner.
Besides Ponsi, there’s Gianluca Bertorello, Alessandro Dedominici, Lorenzo Ferrato, Francesco Gaboardi and Alberto Mondino.
Ponsi and Dedominici work in agriculture, Bertorello is a baker and the others are office workers.
“We bought the costumes on the Internet,” Ponsi said.
Since the Carota Boys made their debut in Rome, Sinner has risen from No. 8 to No. 4 in the rankings — making him the highest-ranked Italian man since Adriano Panatta nearly a half century ago.
But it’s not just Sinner’s performance that the Carota Boys appreciate.
“He’s a simple guy like us,” Ferrato said. “He’s a very humble guy. So we love this aspect of him.”
Added Ponsi: “We appreciate his modesty and his simplicity. He behaves well on the court and he never says anything out of place off the court. He’s a very respectful kid.”
Expect to see the Carota Boys out in full force when Sinner takes on top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Tuesday. Other fans have also been getting involved with the orange theme by wearing orange-colored wigs.
“It fills us with pride that others are following our lead,” Ponsi said, “We’re hoping to color the entire arena orange.”
AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis