Up close and personal with a New Hampshire Tennis Icon: Charles S. "Whitey" Joslin Jr.
Humble! That is not a word I expected to use when I met with a renowned New Hampshire tennis player and coach. I had met Charles Joslin Jr, also known as Whitey, briefly in 2003 while he was coaching two USTA teams at Monadnock Indoor Tennis Club, and I was lucky enough to participate in his drills. 20 years later, I am sitting in his living room, in awe of his extraordinary life and legacy. I can only hope that I can do justice to Whitey and his lifetime accomplishments.
At what age were you introduced to tennis and what were your first tennis experiences like?
My parents played tennis and my dad built a tennis court in our backyard, where I was introduced to the game. He taught me how to play. I was in junior high, about 10-12 years old, when I started taking lessons.
My father would go play indoors on winter weekends at The Badminton and Tennis Club in Boston. He would bring me along, and I would participate in group lessons on an adjacent court.
I played a few junior tournaments, but my first important experience with tennis competition was with my father, when I was about 16 years old. Dad and I competed in Father/Son NELTA tournaments, and following a decent showing at the National Father/Son tournament at Longwood, we were awarded a National ranking of #15.
(After college at UNH, Whitey joined the Air Force as a pilot, and during his 10 years of active duty in Maine and Puerto Rico, he was chosen by his Wing Commander to play tennis with important and distinguished personnel who flew into the base for conferences from Washington DC. Notable among them were General William Westmoreland and future Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown.)
What made you decide to be a coach and devote your life to tennis?
After 10 years in the Air Force, I earned my M.Ed. and in 1970 began teaching math and coaching tennis in Concord, NH. Two years later, my father asked me to join him in operating and teaching at Turnpike Racket Club (TRC) in Plainville, MA and I joined his staff.
I was extremely busy in this role: I chaired ranking committees and the Junior Players’ Committee, taught private and group tennis lessons, coached the Junior Girls’ and Boys’ teams (12s, 14s, 16s, and 18s) and ran and referred the National Girls’ 16s and 18s Junior tournaments. I was also flying with the Air Force Reserves (AFRES) in order to supplement my income.
During this time, I also elected to teach tennis at the Hyannisport Tennis Club during the summers. Eventually, my parents moved to Florida and sold TRC, and my family moved back to Concord, NH, where I became the Head Tennis Professional at The Racquet Club of Concord, and my wife, Sue, worked the desk as a programmer. We had successful junior and adult programs for years.
During these years, I was also coaching the Concord High Girls’ tennis team and the St. Paul’s Boys’ tennis teams.
In 1993, I retired from the AFRES and had to decide what to do with the rest of my life. I had several opportunities open up, but ultimately I accepted a position with Athletic Clubs of America as a Manager and Head Tennis Professional in Western Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this position did not work out as I had concerns regarding their business practices and decided to resign.
I expanded my home racket stringing business, “Whitey’s Pro Shop”, and began full time teaching for Howie Burnett at the Great Bay Racket Club. I joined the USPTA, and later, was hired on as a consultant at the club.
After two years, I was approached with an offer I could not refuse. Would I consider working as the head tennis Pro at the King Ridge Tennis Club while also taking on the head tennis pro position at The Lake Sunapee Yacht Club in the summertime? I accepted both offers and began my work for the King Ridge Ski Area management.
A couple of years later, King Ridge was purchased by Jay Rosenfield, who retained all of the staff members to operate the club. Jay asked me to manage what was now Mountainside Racquet and Fitness Center and I balked at the responsibility of both managing and being the head tennis pro, asking him if he’d consider hiring my daughter Laura, who at the time was managing the tennis club at Mt. Cranmore. After an interview with Laura, Jay admitted, “I can’t afford her… but you can!” My perplexed look got him to add, “I’ll sell the club to you!”
My daughter Laura and her husband Richard joined me and together we were able to make Mountainside Racquet and Fitness Center (MRFC aka Joslin Tennis LLC and Joslin Tennis Real Estate LLC) a great success!
On my journey, I coached the Proctor Academy Girls’ tennis teams and the Kearsage High School boys’ tennis teams. In the summertime at the Lake Sunapee Yacht Club, our juniors competed in the Granite State Kids (GSK) league, led by Diane Phelps from The Executive Club. Our success led to forming a NH combined 14 and under team that won the New England title. I, Diane, Skip Burbine, and several parents flew to Mobile, AL, where we placed 5th in the National tournament.
Your tennis journey is fascinating! Along the way, who helped you most and how?
Dominic Annacone and his family! Particularly Dom Annacone was very influential in getting me into education and into coaching tennis. Dom was “A teacher of teachers” who took a teaching position at Ramey AFB with the Department of Defense. Kathy Annecone and I took classes together at Inter American University on base. I tested their 6-year-old son, Paul, using him as a subject in my “Test and Measurement” course, concluding that he would be extremely successful.
Dom and Cathy allowed Paul to live with us and attend my summer camps at Turnpike Racquet Club and to tag along to many of my Jr. Veteran tennis tournaments. I am very proud of Paul’s success on the pro tour and as a commentator on The Tennis Channel. I am also humbled that he recognizes me as one of his first coaches. (See insert from Paul’s book, “Coaching for Life”)
(Fun fact: Paul beat me on the tennis court when he was only 14 years old.)
What is the best advice someone has ever given you regarding tennis?
“Be a good sport” - by my father.
You were always very athletic, as you played football at UNH, along with various other sports. Where do you get your competitive drive?
I don’t think I’m very competitive at all. As a matter of fact, I always enjoyed teaching tennis as much as playing competitively… BUT, I’d rather win than lose!
What is your favorite stroke or strategy to teach?
The serve! Because it has “served” me so well in my game! Seriously, I like teaching the variety a serving strategy offers a player- power, placement, spins, and rhythm.
If you were to recommend a book for beginner tennis players, what would it be?
I really like Jack Barnaby’s “Advantage Tennis: Racket Work, Tactics, and Logic” for technique instruction and Paul Annacone’s “Coaching for Life: A Guide to Playing, Thinking, and Being the Best You Can Be” for his mental and playing tips.
What advice would you give to the new generation of players?
Be physically fit! Also, learn proper technique and follow current trends.
What advice would you offer to players who want to become a tennis coach/pro?
You have to learn the proper strokes yourself in order to teach them. Also, learn to teach to different levels: beginners, intermediate, as well as advanced players. Teach technique, don’t just do drills. I.e. Continue to instruct technique, tactics, and strategy as you drill! Finally, read and learn from the available books from USPTA and other teaching pros.
What is your best tennis memory and/or accomplishment?
I have many, but the achievement I’m most proud of is playing with my daughter, Laura Joslin-King, in Father/Daughter tournaments and being ranked #1 in the country for 6 years, during the span of 2005-2019.
As a tennis player and pro, how would you like to be remembered?
I would like someone from the USTA NH Newsletter Committee to write a story about me! (Humor…)
I mentioned how humble I found Whitey to be, but his sense of humor is top notch!
Whitey has earned many top honors in New England and nationally while competing in tournaments but even more impressive are his accolades in coaching, good sportsmanship, and in giving back to the tennis community. Towards the end of our interview, I learned from his daughter, Kathy, that Whitey was inducted into the USTA New England Hall of Fame in 2007 (a great honor he failed to mention to me… humble indeed!)
Charles S. Joslin Jr. Top Honors (Chronologically):
The “William Freedman Award” for Outstanding Contribution to New England Junior Tennis - 1973
NELTA (now USTANE) Family of the Year Award - 1982
Gold Medal with Tom Diehl at the National Senior Games - 1999
Induction into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame - 2007
The “USTA New England Joseph Deitz Bowl” for the USPTA New England Tennis Professional Who Has Done the Most for New England Tennis - 2007
USTA New England “Keith Vens Sportsmanship Award” with Laura Joslin-King - 2012
3 Gold, 10 Silver, and 6 Bronze Balls at the National Father/Daughter competitions with Laura Joslin-King - 2005 to 2019
1 Silver and 2 bronze Balls with Tom Beach at the National Senior Mens’ 75 competition, - 2015 and 2016
“I think my career choices were always in the best interest of my family, and I’ll stand by them 100%!”
-Charles S. “Whitey” Joslin Jr.