Granite State Kids:
A Rock in New Hampshire Tennis
James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | April 29, 2019
BEDFORD, NH- For 20 years, Bedford’s Diane Phelps has been at the forefront of Junior Team Tennis in New Hampshire. In 2002, when her youngest daughter was struggling to find the area of competition that best fit her needs, Phelps took matters into her own hands. She founded Granite State Kids (GSK), a Community Tennis Organization in Bedford, which brings together a mix of young players ages 5-18 for clinics, lessons and Junior Team Tennis (JTT).
In its 17+ years, Granite State Kids has grown from humble beginnings to one of the largest Community Tennis Associations (CTAs) in New England, having served more than 2,000 children since its inception.
“Our premise has stayed the same, but we’ve morphed in so many ways. We want kids to play tennis in match format but not have the stress of necessarily being in a tournament,” Phelps said.ADVERTISEMENT
Granite State Kids features programs during the fall, spring, and its flagship program, which runs four days a week all summer long.
While Phelps’ initial goal was to find her daughter a place to comfortably play, GSK has evolved into its own tennis network, containing students, parents, alumni and coaches.
“Granite State Kids is taught by all coaches who are former GSK players and who are or were either high school or college players. They say going through our program was one of the best times they’ve had, so they’re glad to come back and help out,” Phelps said.
She added, “These kids are truly amazing. They’ve gone to college, gotten great jobs, and what is really interesting is the amount of self-confidence they have. They have no problem going out and presenting themselves, and that success is unbelievable. This is what we want to keep doing.”
Through Granite State Kids, young tennis players in southern New Hampshire have had the opportunity to experience both the beginner and competitive side of Junior Team Tennis. The organization has been pumping out JTT teams for years, giving them the chance to compete at Districts, Sectionals and Nationals. Most recently, Team OOF, the 18U Intermediate team out of Bedford, reached JTT Nationals in 2018 and featured a number of kids who were brought up through GSK.
“For the past 20 years, Diane’s GSK program has been integral in the development of so many young tennis players on and off the court. We’ve worked closely with Granite State Kids to help fund some of the most successful tennis programs in southern New Hampshire because we believe in her and in her mission,” said Eric Driscoll, USTA New England Tennis Service Representative for New Hampshire and Maine.
Throughout the past two summers, Phelps has connected GSK with the Manchester Parks and Recreation Department to provide tennis instruction to underprivileged children through the Fun in the Sun camp program.
In 2017, Granite State Kids was awarded USTA New England’s Community Tennis Association (CTA) of the Year award at the annual Awards Ceremony.
“We’ve really done everything we’d hoped for and more. We’ve developed this program from two little teams to a full-fledged program that trains kids for jobs. The growth has been fantastic to watch, and seeing what these kids can turn into is the greatest feeling,” Phelps said.
Beginning this summer, Phelps’s three grandchildren will become the next generation of youngsters to join Granite State Kids.
Phelps, a saleswoman by trade, also owns a local business in her free time. She and her husband created Berkshire Gold, a maple syrup company, which sells at farmers markets and in one local retail store.
As part of Provider Appreciation Month, USTA New England is thanking dedicated tennis providers with web features, giveaways, and networking summits throughout the month of April.
Granite State Kids begins its spring tennis program for all ages on May 13. For more information and to register, visit their website here.
For more information on Provider Appreciation Month, click here.