It is perhaps one of the most unusual sights in tennis: a group of carrots watching Jannik Sinner matches from the stands.
Whether in Rome, Paris, London, New York, or this week Turin, Sinner has had six life-sized carrots cheering him on this season.
Called the ‘Carota Boys’, (carota is Italian for carrot) they have become Sinner’s globe-trotting fan club.
So what’s the story behind them? And why are they dressed as carrots? We dig into the root, and the growth, of the ‘Carota Boys’…
Who are Sinner’s carrot fans?
File this one under ‘unlikely questions to be asked at the start of the season’.
Well, at the start of the season, the ‘Carota Boys’ were not a thing, just an idea.
It was an idea that all came from a Sinner match in 2019 when he ate a carrot during the change of ends during a match in Vienna.
“For us it’s an iconic scene,” Alessandro Dedominici, one of the ‘Carota Boys’, who are a group of Italian boyhood friends, told Tennis TV about Sinner’s mid-match carrot munching.
“A friend of ours said ‘guys it could be nice, take this idea’. So we said ‘OK, let’s take these carrot suits and go to the tournament with that’.”
It took three-and-a-half years for the idea to come to fruition, with the group first dressing as carrots at the Italian Open earlier this year.
They then travelled to Paris to support Sinner at the French Open. And then Wimbledon, where Sinner made the semi-finals. And the US Open, where Sinner thanked them for their support and got the chance to meet them for the first time.
“It means a lot,” said Sinner about his orange-clad fans.
“It’s nice to see them every time that I play. I follow them also on the socials, and, you know, they make funny videos and everything.
“Our relationship [has] just started. It’s nice to see them. I knew when they were doing this, that maybe they are a little bit different than the other fans. I guess that was the case, so I’m very happy to have them.”
The group have social media accounts documenting their travels around the world and their efforts have even been supported by Italian coffee brand Lavazza.
The relationship between Sinner and the ‘Carota Boys’ has continued to grow and ahead of the ATP Finals the group met the world No. 4 and got the chance to hit with him – while dressed as carrots, of course.
“To have all these experiences for the first time, with friends from your whole life, it’s unreal for us,” Lorenzo Ferrato, one of the ‘Carota Boys’, told Tennis TV.
‘They are almost more famous than I am’
So what is it about Sinner that has given the ‘Carota Boys’ the motivation to give him such support?
“It’s the guy, you know?” said Dedominici. “Because he’s so humble, he’s a fighter. We love the attitude he has.”
Another member of the ‘Carota Boys’, Enrico Ponsi, told AP
: “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.”
With the final being in Turin, expect to see plenty of the ‘Carota Boys’ this week.
Whereas at other tournaments they have often only been able to stay for a few days, this time they can cheer on Sinner in all his matches as they are closer to home.
“They’re almost more famous than I am,” said Sinner.
“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. It’s funny.”
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