West Haven Company Gets Ready to Make History in Cuba

FILE - In this March 22, 2013 file photo, miniature flags representing Cuba and the U.S. are displayed on the dash of an American classic car in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)


WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A West Haven company is getting ready to make history itself all for what it’s doing in Cuba.
“We are going to repair all of the cracks that are on the surface and then we are going to roll this sheet product out and then we coat it with the acrylic color coatings,” said Steve Hinding with Hinding Tennis.

Hinding is heading to Cuba with his crew to rebuild tennis courts at the National Tennis Center in Havana.

The project is the brainchild of Burlington tennis pro Jake Agna, who started the non-profit, “Kids on the Ball” in 2001. After years of helping at-risk youth through the organization in the states, it was Agna’s vision for every Cuban child to have an opportunity to play tennis.

Hinding says the project got approval from the U.S. government and the Cuban government, “It is a tremendous opportunity for us and we feel humbled and honored to just be a part of it. I mean it’s been 53 years since a U.S. company has done a brick and mortar project in Cuba.”

In 1991 the Cubans held the Pan American Games there, but now the courts are crumbling and the nets are held up by chairs. “Kids with wooden racquets, broken strings and balls with no felt on them and no nets just a wire line across. but these kids were out there engaging in tennis matches,” said Hinding.

Hinding says without decent equipment kids were still determined to play tennis. “The Cuban kids in terms of their desire to want to play this sport we noticed from the moment we showed up at this facility.” Hinding Tennis will rebuild 10 courts. The renovations to the courts will cost nearly $600,000 but when it’s finished it will be a world class facility.

But most of all, Hinding said it will bring kids together, “Just seeing the whole thing transform to where they are going to have a facility where they are going to be proud of everyday.”

The materials to construct the project will be sent to Cuba in April and the project will start in May. It will take about two weeks to restore the courts.

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