Beware of the "Zebras" because they are back and better than ever on the Key.
The Zebras are an all-women competition team at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center. They hosted a welcome back tennis party there on Nov. 7 to kick off the year.
Co-captain Sandy Schonhoff said that the team started 15 years ago. They compete in the USTA 3.5 and 4.0 leagues and Tri Cities 3.5 and 4.0 leagues. They also compete locally.
“We all had the black and white striped skirts that we wear all the time and one day we were walking onto the courts and someone said, ‘We look like a herd of zebras.’ The name just stuck after that,” said Schonhoff.
This year, the team wanted to spice up the party and get back on the courts to warm up for the season. Co-captain Jackie Gibbins hosted tennis-themed games to help the ladies bond. They separated into four teams to play.
Gibbins challenged the ladies to come up with a team name that had an animal and tennis term in it.
They had just one rule: no one could be the zebras. The names they chose included Alley-Gators, Volley Llamas, Poaching Panthers and the Goats.
Points were awarded for name and presentation, so the ladies got creative with their looks.
The Volley Llamas won the overall competition and got a trophy that is now in the office of the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center. Schonhoff said that they are excited to make the annual competition a part of their welcome back tennis party.
Gibbins said it was the first time they decided to include games at their tennis party. A retired high school tennis coach, she had no problems thinking of ways to make the exercises fun for the women. Some of the games they played included hitting the tennis ball into hula hoops, catching the ball in cones and doubles.
The ladies finished up the tennis party by catching up over pizza and Champagne.
“We have known each other for a long time, but there are also some new people on the team,” said Sheila Gruber. “I think this is a great way to greet each other after the summer and get back on the courts to prepare for the season.”