Granite State Kids: Tennis anyone?

The sounds of summer in Bedford surely included the thwack of tennis balls bouncing off the rackets of nearly a hundred kids and teens enrolled in the Granite State Kids tennis program, a nonprofit with games held at County Road Courts alongside the town ball field.

The summer program for boys and girls is geared to ages 5-18. Now, organizers are preparing for the GSK fall tennis program with games from 4-7 p.m., Sept. 10 through Oct. 15, at Legacy Courts on New Bedford Road next to Riddle Brook School.

Spring tennis, fall tennis and team tennis attract both newcomers and also players of substantial proficiency. Certified instructors most often are seasoned GSK “graduates,” college kids or high schoolers returning each summer to share what they’ve learned.

“When you can play tennis, a new world opens to you,” said Diane Phelps, director of GSK. “Many of our players compete at tournament level but mostly we play for fun.”

More than 2,500 participants have been embraced by the GSK Community Tennis Assoc., a part of the United States Tennis Assoc. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles are offered. A fall clinic at local courts, 4-7 p.m., Mondays, is planned.

“We want people from all over to know that we’re here with lots of ways to enjoy the sport of tennis,” Phelps said. “Tennis offers a great way to learn solid skills and make friends.”

The “CTA Award of the Year,” from the USTA is a recent honor for GSK. The program was founded in 2002 by Phelps, a resident of Bedford for 35 years, along with Vicky Maier, a local mom whose child wanted to play tennis. Phelps commends the team spirit of her students and instructors and salutes the parents or caregivers who see tennis as an enrichment to life.

“I thank all of our GSK family, especially Jane O’Brien, manager of Bedford Parks & Rec, for ample help over the years,” said Phelps. “And, thanks go to Eric Driscoll, from USTA NH, who has been with us from Day 1.”

Recent outreach efforts by GSK now are bringing tennis to three sites in Manchester. Kids there are learning tennis skills during “Fun in the Sun,” the city’s free summer camp. Phelps said that the many activities available for dozens of youngsters are now enhanced by tennis.

“Between our big summer program, fall tennis programs, leagues in spring and fall, and spring clinics, there’s tennis, mostly all year long,” Phelps said. “It’s a healthy sport played among friends.”

Fall recreational tennis and advanced tennis clinic registrations will be accepted Aug.15 to Sept. 15 with play from Sept. 10 to Oct. 15 at Legacy Courts. Enroll by email: dphelps87@comcast.net.

Information on all GSK programs is available online: granitestatekids.com.

Ready for tennis are players, front row from left, Christian Elgie; Reid Pippen; Cameron Pakler; Adan Damania; and Lorelei Brown, all of Bedford, welcomed here by Zach Suozzo, instructor, and Diane Phelps, GSK director and instructor.