Tennis Converges Under One Umbrella to Promote Tennis in Cuba


Tennis Channel. TENNIS Magazine. Tennis Industry. TENNIS.com. It doesn’t take a racquet scientist to see that, while each of these media outlets occupies a different space, they are all doing the same thing: promoting the sport of tennis.

And so it only makes sense that, as of last month, these broadcast, print and digital voices of the game converged under one umbrella. They joined forces in order to tell more compelling stories, better inform you about what’s important in the sport, and report on the players and places that matter—including those players and places that don’t have a voice. You have probably noticed various elements of the Tennis Channel appearing on TENNIS.com, and vice versa. Think of these early collaborations as formations that a newly formed doubles team practices. Some will work, others will need tinkering. But we know one thing for sure: we’ve found the perfect partner.

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This week, Tennis Channel’s seasoned crew of producers, editors and reporters will travel to Havana, Cuba to chronicle a most unexpected transformation: the rebirth of the country’s National Tennis Center by a group of Americans. Originally built for the 1992 Pan-American Games, the NTC’s courts had fallen into utter disrepair, a playing surface in name only. The nets sagged, the fences rusted—it was a dismal scene. The playing conditions were both unsafe and unacceptable by any reasonable standard. You can see hi-res photography of what the NTC once looked like over at Baseline.

Neglect had taken the life out of these courts—but not the game out of the players, as Jake Agna discovered. A tennis pro from Burlington, Vermont and co-founder of the Kids on the Ball youth tennis program, Agna began making regular visits to Havana after watching a CBS Sunday Morning episode that highlighted a musician’s cultural journey to Cuba. Inspired by the piece, Agna made his first trip to a nation seemingly off-limits to Americans for decades. He saw the value of his own cultural connection, through tennis, and the potential of the Cuban children—as well the unsuitable conditions they played in.

Needing the right equipment and facilities to bring their tennis dreams to life, Agna coordinated an effort with Hinding Tennis, a court-construction company from Connecticut, to undertake the first on-the-ground U.S. work project in Cuba in over 60 years. What they have achieved, and what they still wish to achieve, is the subject of Tennis Channel’s latest documentary project.

In rebuilding Cuba’s National Tennis Center, two governments came together to create something powerful, that will resonate with all who enjoy tennis. I can think of no more appropriate story to tell that better exemplifies another exciting union, between TENNIS.com and Tennis Channel.

Sincerely,
Ed McGrogan
Senior Editor, TENNIS.com