Osaka Suffers Defeat To Tormo In Fed Cup

Japan´s Naomi Osaka returns the ball to Spain´s Sara Sorribes during their Fed Cup Qualifiers first-round match between Spain and Japan on February 7, 2020 at La Manga Club in Cartagena.  AFP


A tearful Naomi Osaka followed up her Australian Open disappointment with another surprise defeat on Friday when she was beaten 6-0, 6-3 by world number 78 Sara Sorribes Tormo in the Fed Cup.

Spain took an unexpected lead over Japan in the tie in Cartagena after Sorribes Tormo capitalised on a careless performance from Osaka, who made an astonishing 50 unforced errors in the 15 games.

Carla Suarez Navarro then made it 2-0 to the hosts after she eased past Misaki Doi 6-3, 6-4.

Sorribes Tormo enjoyed the backing of a sizeable home crowd at La Manga Club and her consistency proved too much for Osaka, who has never played her best on clay.

“We knew that Sara had the game to make it very uncomfortable for Naomi,” Spain captain Anabel Medina Garrigues said. “She stuck to the game plan perfectly.”

The winners of the eight qualifying ties will join four automatic entries, holders France, Australia, Czech Republic and hosts Hungary, in the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.

Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has endured a shaky start to the year after being knocked out by 15-year-old American sensation Coco Gauff last month in Melbourne, where she had lifted the trophy in 2019.

Since claiming her second consecutive major triumph, Osaka has dipped, failing to go past the fourth round in any of the four Grand Slams since.

The 22-year-old, who has dropped to number 10 in the world, surrendered the first set to Sorribes Tormo in a swift 27 minutes before putting up more of a fight in the second.

But after Osaka led 2-0, Sorribes Tormo came back and a break midway through proved decisive, with a clearly disappointed Osaka struggling to contain her emotions at the finish.

Sorribes Tormo’s second career singles win in Fed Cup gave Spain the perfect start, which was extended by Suarez Navarro’s comfortable victory over Doi.

Osaka will now have to beat Suarez Navarro in the reverse singles on Saturday to prevent Spain booking their place in the finals in Budapest.

 Serena out-duels Ostapenko 

The United States were well on their way to an appearance in the finals after victories for 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams and newly minted Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Kenin got the ball rolling for the Americans in Everett, Washington, with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Anastasija Sevastova and Williams followed with a hard-fought 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

“I was obviously a little nervous coming in after Australia,” said Kenin, who needed just 68 minutes to subdue Sevastova. “I felt tired, but I tried to get that out of my mind and just represent and do what I do best.”

Williams had a tougher time with Ostapenko, but benefitted from the Latvian’s two double faults in the first-set tiebreaker and another double fault to give Williams match point in the second-set decider.

Ostapenko also double-faulted to hand Williams a break for a 6-5 lead in the second set. The US veteran couldn’t close out the match however, dropping her own serve and the first two points of the ensuing tiebreaker before storming back with five straight points.

“I’m really proud of being able to get the win for the team,” said Williams, who took her perfect record in Fed Cup singles play to 14-0.

Elsewhere, world number five Belinda Bencic thrashed Gabriela Dabrowski 6-1, 6-2 to give Switzerland a commanding 2-0 advantage over Canada, Germany grabbed a 2-0 lead over Brazil and Slovakia took a 2-0 lead over Britain in Bratislava.

The ties between Belgium and Kazakhstan, Romania and Russia, and the Netherlands and Belarus, were all level at 1-1 after the opening day.


Osaka Opens Year With Tough Win Over Sakkari

Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return against Maria Sakkari of Greece during the women’s singles match on day two of the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on January 7, 2020.


Japanese star Naomi Osaka came from a break down in the third set to overcome Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the first round of the WTA Brisbane International on Tuesday.

Sakkari sniffed an upset when she won the second set in a tiebreak then broke Osaka’s opening service game of the third set, but the former world number one dug deep and won 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 in a two-hour opening-round clash.

Osaka, the tournament’s third seed, said she was pleased with her first match of the year, after she was forced out of the WTA Finals in October with a shoulder injury.

“I’m really happy with how I served — I had to retire from my last match because of my shoulder thing, so I wasn’t really sure how I was going to serve today,” she said.

“But I was told I hit 16 aces, so that’s pretty good for me.”

Sixth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens also progressed in three sets, beating Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Eighth seed Madison Keys served brilliantly in her impressive 6-3, 6-2 win over Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova.

The American made 70 percent of her first serves as she eased to a comfortable victory in just 66 minutes.

“I think it (my serve) was just working pretty well today,” she said.

“I probably took a little bit of pace off but more just because I felt like I was kind of feeling my slider a little bit more.

“It’s always nice when you can not only make your first serve, but it feels like it sets up the point really well for you.”

Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova caused an upset when she beat former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Samsonova, playing only her seventh main draw WTA tournament, recorded her first victory over a top-30 player with her 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win.

In other matches, Yulia Putinseva of Kazakhstan beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and Estonian Anett Kontaveit overpowered Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 6-1.

‘She Smelled Expensive’, Excited Osaka Says After Meeting Beyonce

Tennis player Naomi Osaka of Japan poses for photos after a sightseeing ride in a helicopter at the Queensland Tennis Centre in Brisbane on January 2, 2020, ahead of the Brisbane International tennis tournament starting on January 6. SAEED KHAN / AFP


Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka has revealed her excitement at meeting her idol Beyonce, saying the US singer “smelled expensive” and gave her a morale-boosting pep talk at a low point last year.

The two-time Grand Slam champion, who will be defending her Australian Open title this month, bumped into Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z while still “depressed” after losing in the fourth round at the US Open.

“I met Beyonce and Jay-Z during the off-season. She just smelled expensive and beautiful and she was soft and she hugged me,” Osaka told the WTA website. “I was like, this is what heaven is.”

The meeting came in the aftermath of Osaka’s defeat at Flushing Meadow to Belinda Bencic, which ended her first Grand Slam title defence.

“She was talking to me and she said she was proud of me. I thought, wow, that actually was a really important moment,” said the 22-year-old, who stunned Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final.

“I felt really depressed after I lost my match, but I’m thinking about the impact that tennis players — I don’t think we know, I don’t think we’re aware of all the good that we can do.

“That was kind of an eye-opening thing. Even though it was one of my worst points, to lose — I wanted to be a defending champion and I lost early — there’s still something really good that came out of that.

“There are some things that I have to remember are out of my control, especially past events. So I just have to put myself in a position to not regret anything.”

Osaka hired a new coach in the off-season, Wim Fissette, having split with Jermaine Jenkins following the US Open, and said she was raring to go after her 2019 season was abruptly cut short by injury at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

She is set to play her first match of the year at the Brisbane International against Maria Sakkari on Tuesday.

“I just feel like for me having positive energy and having a clean mental slate is really important, so that’s what I did this entire off-season,” she said.

“I mean, I trained, but I wasn’t super pressed on anything. That’s just something I had to learn throughout the entire year.

“I feel like 2019 had so many trials and errors and all in all it felt like a very long year, but now that I’m here it feels very compact. It’s learning about myself more.”


Osaka Suffers WTA Finals Injury Heartbreak

Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during their women’s singles first round match in the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Shenzhen on October 27, 2019.


Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka vowed to be fit and firing for her Australian Open title defence after her season was abruptly cut short by injury at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

The two-time Grand Slam winner, who was on a hot streak of 11 matches, withdrew from the season finale with a shoulder problem — the second straight year she has been forced out due to injury.

Third-ranked Osaka, who retired during last year’s edition of the lucrative year-ender with a hamstring injury, had been due to play world number one Ashleigh Barty later on Tuesday.

Her place in Red Group will be taken by world number 10 Kiki Bertens, who will now face Australia’s Barty in Shenzhen.

The 23-year-old Osaka said she was unsure of the severity of the injury to her right shoulder, which she initially hurt during her triumph in Beijing earlier this month.

“I felt it immediately (in her first match on Sunday),” she told reporters. “When I woke up the day after it was throbbing.

“It’s just a little bit painful. I don’t think it’s something that I would immediately need surgery for,” she added.

Osaka had started the $14 million round-robin tournament with a tough three-set victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday to extend her winning streak, after titles in Beijing and Osaka.

She had been determined to make amends for a disappointing WTA Finals debut last year, when her winless campaign ended with a tearful retirement against Bertens.

“I thought I was playing well. I definitely wanted to win here,” Osaka said.

Once she recovers from the injury, Osaka’s attention will turn towards the Australian Open in January, where she will defend a Grand Slam title for only the second occasion.

“I just want to train really hard,” Osaka said. “Last year during the off-season, I trained really hard for Australia. I felt like going into the Slam I was really fit. I just want to try to duplicate that.”

Even though it ended prematurely, Osaka was pleased with her back end to the season after a tough stretch where she suffered a stunning first-round exit at Wimbledon followed by a lacklustre US Open title defence.

She rated 2019, which started on a high in Melbourne, as a more pleasing season than last year, when she made her Grand Slam breakthrough by beating Serena Williams in a tempestuous final at Flushing Meadows.

“(Losing at Wimbledon) was the lowest emotional feeling I’ve ever felt,” she said. “After the US Open, I set goals. I was able to win tournaments. That was definitely the highlight.

“I definitely think that this year was somehow better (than last year),” she added.


Osaka Suffers WTA Finals Injury Heartbreak For Second Year Running


Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew from the season-ending WTA Finals with a shoulder problem on Tuesday, the second straight year she has been forced out due to injury.

Osaka, who retired during last year’s edition of the lucrative year-ender with a hamstring injury, had been due to play world number one Ashleigh Barty later on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the Finals,” Osaka said. “It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year.”

“This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year,” she added.

Osaka had started the $14 million round-robin tournament with a tough three-set victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday to extend her winning streak to 11 matches after titles in Beijing and Osaka.

She had been determined to make amends for a disappointing WTA Finals debut last year, when her winless campaign ended with her retiring in tears against Kiki Bertens due to a hamstring injury.

World number 10 Bertens will replace Osaka for the remaining matches and plays Barty in Red Group action on Tuesday.

Osaka Beats Kvitova In Thrilling WTA Finals Opener



In-form Naomi Osaka outlasted Petra Kvitova in a three-set marathon for a drought-breaking victory at the WTA Finals on Sunday.

Opening the $14 million round-robin tournament, the first in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the world No.3 regrouped from several lethargic stretches to win 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 39 minutes.

It was the Japanese sensation’s first victory at the WTA Finals after a winless campaign in her debut appearance last year and stretched her current winning streak to 11 matches having claimed titles in Osaka and Beijing.

“She started going hard at me from the beginning and I just had to adjust to it,” Osaka said after the match.

In a rematch of this year’s tense Australian Open final, world No.6 Kvitova came out with intent until she stuttered in the eighth game of the opening set with three double faults to squander the game.

Osaka held off two break points in the ninth game before dominating the tiebreak to draw first blood.

It seemed to shake the Czech’s confidence but Kvitova, the oldest player in the draw, impressively clawed back in the second set and took advantage of an error-strewn Osaka who several times slammed her racquet in frustration.

A refocused Osaka put the foot down in the deciding set but could not convert two match points in the eighth game before finally closing it out in the 10th to issue a statement to her rivals in Red Group.

The 22-year-old maintained her unbeaten record over Kvitova having won their only previous clash in a three-set classic in Melbourne.

The event’s move to China, after a five-year run in Singapore, is highlighted by a record prize pool in tennis with the winner receiving up to $4.725 million.

Osaka Beats World Number One, Barty To Win China Open

Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return during the women’s singles final against Ashleigh Barty of Australia at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on October 6, 2019. NOEL CELIS / AFP


Naomi Osaka won a second tournament on the spin as she fought back from a set down to defeat world number one, Ashleigh Barty in the China Open final on Sunday.

The Japanese two-time Grand Slam champion emerged victorious after 110 minutes in chilly Beijing, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

On Saturday, after defeating holder Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals, the 21-year-old called her own serve “confusing”.

And so it was in the sixth game when Osaka conjured up a double fault, then an ace, then another double fault against Australia’s Barty.

The world number four, victorious in her home Pan Pacific Open last month, was broken when she planted a forehand into the net.

The former number one appeared mildly uncomfortable with her shoulder, touching it and rotating it between points.

Barty, 23, who had strapping down her left calf, wrapped up the first set in 34 minutes and frustration was creeping in for the Australian Open champion Osaka.

But much of the crowd in Beijing was pro-Osaka and they were cheering when she broke Barty to move 4-2 up on the way to winning the second set.

“Basically I was telling myself to keep fighting even though my attitude was really trash. This is a final, I’m really privileged to be here in the first place, so keep fighting.”

Osaka was in control now and broke Barty — who five years ago took a rest from tennis and played cricket — in the first game of the deciding set on the way to victory.

This was a third title of 2019 for Osaka and fifth in her short career.

Osaka Sweeps Into China Open Final

Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return during her women’s singles semi-final match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on October 5, 2019. GREG BAKER / AFP


Naomi Osaka said that she had just two hours’ sleep before crushing title-holder Caroline Wozniacki to sweep into the China Open final on Saturday. 

The 21-year-old Japanese will play world number one Ashleigh Barty of Australia in Sunday’s championship match in Beijing — and will hope to have had a bit more rest.

The Australian Open champion said that she was so hyped up after defeating Bianca Andreescu in three thrilling sets on Friday night that she barely slept.

“I went to sleep at 4:00am, I woke up at 6:00am, so solid two hours, I can’t really sleep after my matches,” said Osaka.

“I just feel like my adrenaline’s up more during the tougher matches so it makes it harder to sleep.”

“It’s definitely been a bit crazy time-wise,” she added, having returned to the court to face Wozniacki less than 24 hours after defeating Andreescu.

But if the two-time Grand Slam champion was exhausted, it did not show in a 6-4, 6-2 victory in 84 minutes against the Dane.

Osaka held off all seven break points she faced against Wozniacki.

The world number four showed flashes of irritation as she let Wozniacki off the hook at 3-3 in the first set, tossing her racquet on the floor.

But in the ninth game, the pressure on the 19th-ranked Wozniacki told, Osaka grabbing the break of service with an arrowing forehand.

Osaka, like Wozniacki a former number one, broke her opponent at the start of the second set to underline her superiority, before racing to a thumping win.

The Japanese insisted that she was the underdog against Barty.

They have played each other three times before with the 23-year-old Australian winning twice.

Barty said that she has “never been happier” on and off the court after she saved match point against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in their semi-final.

The French Open champion committed 52 unforced errors but still just about emerged victorious in a nail-biting 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7) triumph.

Barty, who surged to the top of the rankings in June, said there had been “massive growth” in her mental fortitude when she faces crunch points.

“That’s gone hand-in-hand with adding some new people to my team, trying to work with them behind the scenes,” Barty, who five years ago took a break from tennis and played cricket, said.

“Not just for my tennis — it’s for my life, my health and well being, as well, which has been the best thing.

“I have never been happier off the court, never been happier on the court.”

 Thiem vs Tsitsipas 

Top seed Dominic Thiem fought back from a set down to reach the final in the men’s draw — and also book his place at the season-ending ATP Finals.

The Austrian will play Stefanos Tsitsipas after beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes.

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas triumphed 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in a battle of the rising stars against 22-year-old Alexander Zverev.

Thiem, who has now reached the ATP Finals for a fourth time in a row, said: “For me personally, it was one big goal when I started into the season, I’m very, very happy that I made it (the London Finals) again.

“But it’s not because of today’s win, it’s because of all the season.”

Also already qualified for London are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev.


Osaka Ends Wozniacki’s China Open Reign To Set Up Barty Final

Naomi Osaka of Japan serves during her women’s singles quarter-final match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on October 4, 2019.


Naomi Osaka will face world number one Ashleigh Barty in Sunday’s final of the China Open after powering to a convincing win over title-holder Caroline Wozniacki.

The Australian Open winner threw off some initial frustrations to emphatically end Wozniacki’s reign in Beijing with a 6-4, 6-2 victory in 84 minutes.

The 21-year-old Japanese, who on Friday ended Bianca Andreescu’s run of 17 wins in a row, took time to settle against Denmark’s Wozniacki.

World number four Osaka showed flashes of irritation as she let Wozniacki off the hook at 3-3 in the first set, tossing her racquet on the floor.

But in the ninth game, the pressure on the 19th-ranked Wozniacki told, Osaka grabbing the all-important break of service with an arrowing forehand.

Osaka, like Wozniacki a former number one, broke her opponent at the start of the second set to underline her superiority, before racing to a thumping win.

Earlier on Saturday, Australia’s Barty booked her place in the final by saving match point in a tough three-set triumph over Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.


China Open: Naomi Osaka Edges US Pegula To Reach Round Two

Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return against Jessica Pegula of the US in their women’s singles first round match at the WTA China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on September 29, 2019.


Naomi Osaka said she had been “really riled up” as Japan’s two-time Grand Slam champion reached the second round at the China Open on Sunday despite being far from her best.

The 21-year-old former world number one racked up 26 unforced errors on the way to a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win over Jessica Pegula of the United States.

Fourth seed Osaka looked frustrated and disgruntled on several occasions against the 76th-ranked Pegula.

Osaka, who plays Andrea Petkovic of Germany next in Beijing, was disappointed that she was unable to replicate the form which won her the Pan Pacific Open in Japan a week ago.

“During tournaments, the first match is always the worst for me,” said the US-based star.

“But I was kind of expecting it to be better because I just played really well in Tokyo (actually Osaka).

“I don’t know, I thought it would carry on. I was a little bit frustrated that I felt my game wasn’t really where I left it.”

“I just felt like today I was really riled up, not really sure why,” she added, also describing herself as “very stressed” and “very nervous”.

“I also didn’t want to lose in the first round,” she said.

Osaka’s triumph in the Pan Pacific Open was her first trophy since her second consecutive Grand Slam win, at the Australian Open in January.

Another two-time Grand Slam winner, Simona Halep, cruised into round two in Beijing with a 6-1, 6-1 demolition of qualifier Rebecca Peterson.

The Romanian has had ongoing problems with her back and, despite having little trouble swatting aside the Swede, admitted she was unable to play her normal game.

“I’m not 100 percent recovered, I still feel pain,” said the sixth seed.

“Always when you have an injury, it’s a little bit risky.

“But I accepted it, I took the risk.”

Venus Williams, whose sister Serena is not in the Chinese capital because of a knee problem, battled into the next round with a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Barbora Strycova.

 Barty shrugs off injury 

Ashleigh Barty said that she expects to be fit for her opener in Beijing after the Australian world number one struggled with a calf problem in Wuhan.

The 23-year-old lost to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka in Friday’s semi-final at the Wuhan Open and needed treatment on her left calf halfway through the second set.

The French Open champion, the top seed at the China Open, said: “I haven’t been on court since my match in Wuhan.

“We’ll look to get on court this afternoon (for practice) and kind of test it out.

“From how it’s been going, it’s been marginally better than we expected, which is good.

“I’m sure that we’ll have no issue. It’s just about now ticking the boxes and making sure it’s alright to go.”

Barty has a bye in the first round.


Pan Pacific Open: Osaka Edges Tomova To Reach Quarter-Final

Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return against Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova in women’s singles round of 16 at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Osaka on September 18, 2019. Jiji Press / AFP


Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka beat qualifier Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria in straight sets on Wednesday to reach the Pan Pacific Open quarter-finals.

Making her first appearance at the tournament following a first-round bye, top seed Osaka outclassed Tomova, ranked 181st in the world, 7-5, 6-3 in Osaka, western Japan.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning,” admitted Osaka, seeking to clinch her first victory at the home event after being runner-up in 2016 and 2018.

Osaka, who crashed out of this month’s US Open in the last 16, started slowly, losing the first three games in the first set, but later found her rhythm with solid serves and crisp volleying to secure the first set.

Tomova’s quick court coverage caused Osaka difficulty throughout the match but in the end the two-time Grand Slam champion had too much power for her lowly opponent, serving a succession of rapid aces.

The 21-year-old, who was born in the city, said the cheers of her hometown fans helped her put in a solid performance.

She will take on either Russia’s Varvara Flink or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan  in the quarter finals.

Last week, Osaka announced she was splitting with her coach, her second break-up this year as she battles for form and slips from the number-one position in the world rankings to number four.

Osaka had already caught the tennis world by surprise when she announced she was parting ways with coach Sascha Bajin, who had overseen her stunning rise to win two Grand Slams — the US Open in 2018 and the Australian Open title in January.

Her main challengers in the Japan event will be fellow top-10 players Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands and US sensation Sloane Stephens.

Former world number one Angelique Kerber of Germany downed unseeded Nicole Gibbs of the US 6-2, 6-4 following her first-round bye.

“It’s tough. She played really well,” Kerber said.

Madison Keys, the 2017 US Open runner-up, came from behind to narrowly beat Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.

The fifth seed American lost the first set but found her form in the second to shut out the unseeded Diyas before sealing the win in the deciding set 6-4.


Osaka Cruises Into Third Round At US Open

Naomi Osaka of Japan plays against Magda Linette of Poland during their Round 2 women’s Singles match at the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 29, 2019. Kena Betancur / AFP


Top-ranked defending champion Naomi Osaka advanced to the third round of the US Open on Thursday by defeating Poland’s 53rd-ranked Magda Linette 6-2, 6-4.

The 21-year-old Japanese star, also the reigning Australian Open champion, will next face either US 15-year-old Coco Gauff, the world number 140 who reached the fourth round in July at Wimbledon, or 112th-ranked Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos.

Linette broke Osaka in the second game of the second set and leaped ahead 3-0 before the top seed rallied to capture six of the last seven games and close out the match in 71 minutes.

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“I’m really happy to not have to play a three-set match,” Osaka said.

Among the celebrities watching her match at Louis Armstrong Stadium were retired NBA star Kobe Bryant and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protest became a national symbol for objecting to racial inequality and social injustice.

“I’m really grateful they came out,” Osaka said. “It’s really cool. I honestly just wanted to finish as fast as possible because I didn’t want them to be out in the sun too long.”

Osaka thanked the supportive crowd, saying, “You guys were really nice to me. It gives me a lot of energy and makes it so much more fun.”