Court Coverage With Nina Pantic

Dec. 20, 2010

The Fall season is over, it's officially winter break, and all that my teammates and I have left to do is wait for our grades to arrive and pray that we passed. UCLA women's tennis is on hiatus for a few weeks, until January 3rd to be precise, but we've done a lot these past few weeks that I want to catch everyone up on. And don't worry, we have all been keeping up with our training since official practice ended and I'm sure that our hard work will only increase with finals being over. However, we have had some time for a few extracurricular activities.

Although Thanksgiving is traditionally a family holiday meant to be celebrated by relatives, here at UCLA my teammates decided to create a feast of their own, and I was fortunate enough to be invited despite my nonexistent cooking abilities. We all contributed to buying the groceries, planning the dinner, and decorating the apartment, but it was just four of my teammates who successfully pulled off cooking a legit Thanksgiving dinner. Even though we kind of cheated by getting a "turkey in a bag" the rest of the meal was prepared and included dishes like sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup, stuffing, roasted vegetables, and about four different kinds of bread. My only true contribution was baking the Pillsbury Doughboy crescent rolls, but at least I can say I did something other than pig out. Dessert was not to be neglected and we had homemade apple pie and pumpkin pecan pie to choose from, and everyone obviously had a little bit of both.

Thanksgiving was quickly followed by preparations for another exciting holiday...a Secret Santa gift exchange. Every team member was involved in this tradition and we all struggled to find the perfect "under $20" gift to present to a fellow teammate at our Secret Santa dinner held at an amazing Italian restaurant in the Pacific Palisades. Secret Santa was a huge hit and gifts included everything from hot cocoa mixes and cookies, to jewelry, make up, and clothing. I have a feeling that we will all someday be amazing mothers and wives with all this cooking talent, generous gift giving, and delicious baking skills, not to mention our athletic ability. Over these past few weeks we have seen gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, French macarons, pumpkin pecan pie, apple pie, candy canes, and cake all made by the hands of teammates. It's good that we're all such hard-working athletes or I think we'd be severely overweight.

With tennis winding down for the year we've all clearly had a lot of time on our hands to cook, shop, eat, and study. And with our new locker room finally finished, we have even had time to dabble in arts and crafts. With the new renovation came a spacious, carpeted area of wood lockers, huge showers, and matching wooden stools. Like children at summer camp we set up a painting station and got down to business decorating the stools in mostly blue and gold decor. In case you're unaware, the UCLA women's tennis team is also artistically talented to go along with all our cooking and shopping skills. By the end of the day each stool reflected each girl's personality and it's going to be a treasure we hold onto for the rest of our lives. Since we had our arts and crafts party outdoors, the men's tennis team was able to see what we were doing. And even though they judged and laughed at us, I'm sure they were all just jealous that their locker room has a long, boring bench instead of stools.

Finally, I witnessed my first UCLA-USC football game this year with a bunch of teammates at the Rose Bowl. I must say that the atmosphere was amazing! Bruin fans arrived early to tailgate and entered the stadium full of energy, and it's moments like those that I feel lucky to be part of the Bruin program. Luckily for me, I only saw the first half and didn't have to witness the loss but I still am blown away by how energetic Bruins are. Despite the loss, the Blue and Gold definitely overpowered USC in the cheering and spirit department and I can only hope that even a little bit of that fan spirit will attend our USC home match on March 2. On that note, the season starts January 19th with a match against Saint Mary's. Happy holidays and see you next year!

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