ALL ABOUT US
How We Got Here
Havana Tennis was formed after my first trip to Havana, Cuba, when I was 16 years old. I'm a competitive junior tennis player that loves the sport and can't imagine life without tennis. In meeting the Cuban junior tennis team, a group of determined and disciplined kids, it was clear to me that these players shared the same love and passion for the game. Unfortunately, I learned that the Cuban juniors compete at a significant disadvantage because of their lack of tennis supplies and resources. Supplies and resources that junior players, like me, here in the United States take for granted. After my first visit with the players I was determined not to come back empty handed ever again. This is what
inspired me to form Havana Tennis. Havana Tennis is connecting strings between cultures through the power of our sport.
Havana, Cuba. December 2016.
Meeting with the team and realizing how talented, determined and optimistic they are was enough to motivate me to pursue my goal.
Delivering Strings and Overgrip
Havana, Cuba. November 2017.
We (referring to my fellow USTA junior competitive tennis players) are all guilty of throwing, cracking and mistreating our rackets in a moment of frustration on the court. Hey, no problem, we have 3 or 4 other rackets in our tennis bag. Need to overgrip after a long hot match? Hey, no problem, get the 30 pack of Tourna Grip out of your tennis bag and voila, you’re ready for the next match. Oh, and while you’re delving into your bag, why not reach for protein bars, electrolyte drinks, energy gels, cramp relief meds, that reel of string you need or simply a clean change of clothes.
Hard to imagine that in about an hour’s travel time I’m hanging out with other junior competitive tennis players in Havana, Cuba. They, like us, love the game of tennis and play almost every day. Unlike us, they are extremely careful not to damage their racket because they may not have extras in their bag. Oh, and by the way, their bag has little else in it. Need another overgrip? Then carefully remove the one that’s on your racket, wash it and dry it in the sun and then reapply it because there aren’t enough new overgrips to go around. And break a string? Cross your fingers that an extra set might be available or you might have to sit out until a new set miraculously appears.
Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, whether it’s to play a tournament or not, my tennis bag is always at my side. I’ve had the privilege of playing in many countries including Colombia, Israel, Italy and the Czech Republic but by far the place that stands out the most is Cuba. Enduring over half a century of a communist regime, I’ve witnessed how many Cubans lack the essentials that most of us take for granted. Toothpaste, toilet paper, food and clean water to name a few. Not to mention the limits on freedom of speech and the ability to come and go as you please. Without drifting into the political issues, the Cuban junior tennis team is a real inspiration to me because, against many obstacles, they wake up each morning with optimism and the desire to improve their game by working hard and staying hopeful about the future. There’s no lack of talent, discipline, desire or determination but only the lack of resources that prevents these players from reaching their full potential.
Fortunately, it hasn’t been all gloom and doom. Recently, the courts at the Cuban National Tennis Center in Havana, after many years of neglect, have been restored by Kids on the Ball, a U.S. non-profit group at a cost of $750,000.00. I’ve witnessed how this great achievement has made a huge impact on the morale of the players when they walk onto the courts each day. Taking it a step further, wouldn’t it be amazing to know that once on the new courts, our fellow junior tennis players could have the peace of mind of knowing that strings, overgrip and rackets will be there when they’re needed so they can focus solely on playing tennis? That’s my goal at Havana Tennis. And, with the help of other passionate tennis players, I hope to make this dream a reality for our fellow junior tennis players in Cuba. Havana Tennis is connecting strings between cultures through the power of our sport!
Second visit to Havana delivering hundreds of strings and overgrip.
Third visit to Havana delivering strings, overgrip and tennis balls.