The "Carota Boys" have made a name for themselves in the tennis world. GETTY IMAGES

Meet the "Carota Boys," a rising presence at Grand Slam tournaments, echoing the stature of their idol, Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner.

All will be in attendance as Sinner goes up against Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday at Roland Garros. The "Carota Boys" have emerged as one of professional tennis’ most recognisable off-court sensations, with their bright orange costumes being a favorite target for cameramen. 

Even Sinner himself has remarked, “they are becoming more famous than me.” Remarkably, it all began years ago when one group member noticed Sinner eating a carrot during a changeover. 

These six young Italians, donned in carrot costumes, are making a colourful appearance at the French Open to cheer Sinner towards victory. Originating from Revello, a quaint town in Piedmont, the avid football and tennis fans have traveled to major tennis destinations including Paris, Wimbledon, New York, and Melbourne.

"It's crazy and incredible," stated both Gianluca Bertorello and Enrico Ponsi, two of the six "Carota Boys", all aged between 25-30. "It all started as a joke. Just a year ago, we decided to have a weekend in Rome to attend the Italian Open," Gianluca told AFP.

"As we wanted to do something different, we dressed as carrots, we had tickets for just one day of the tournament and we were lucky enough that Jannik played that day and won his match," Enrico added. The group have revealed the reasoning behind their costume decision is purely down to Sinner eating a carrot, and no other reason, despite previous suggestions it was down to the tennis players' hair colour.

"It's because we found it amusing and incredible that a player of his level would eat a carrot at a change of ends during the Vienna tournament in 2019," Enrico said. Back in Italy, the "Carota Boys" were approached by Lavazza, one of Sinner's sponsors. Lavazza brought them to Roland Garros, which soon led to trips to Wimbledon, the US Open, and the ATP Finals in Turin.

In early 2024, they were there to witness Sinner clinch his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, ending a 47-year wait for an Italian men's tennis champion. "We have a WhatsApp group with him where we exchange messages, some of us played tennis with him," said Gianluca. 

As 22-year-old Sinner continues his ascent in the rankings, potentially positioning himself to replace Novak Djokovic as the world number one at the French Open, the "Carota Boys" have experienced a surge in popularity. On Instagram, their follower count has reached 136,000, and they are now represented by two public relations firms. Additionally, they have introduced merchandise including orange t-shirts and caps. Their endeavors have extended to publishing a book.