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Academy offers lessons
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For the eighth straight summer, the Future Stars 2000-San Joaquin Valley Tennis Academy offered lessons in Ceres.

"It's a good relationship and we enjoy having them be a part of our community," said Cambria Pollinger, recreation coordinator for the city of Ceres. "They give quality instruction for a reasonable price."

A total of 14 boys and girls, aged 7 and older, signed up for the second session, which started on July 17 and ended on Aug. 7 at Ceres High School.

Beginner and intermediate classes were combined.

Cost was $35 for four, one-hour lessons.

"The nice thing about this program is local instructors are teaching the classes," Pollinger said.

Kaushik Bangalore, Justin Zertuche and Brian Casey provided lessons.

The trio starred on the Modesto High School boys tennis team last year.

Bangalore, a recent graduate, and Zertuche, a soon-to-be senior, are from Ceres.

Justin won the Modesto Metro Conference singles championship in 2006-07.

Kaushik played No. 3 singles for the Panthers.

Brian, a soon-to-be senior, played on the first doubles team.

Bangalore, Zertuche and Casey emphasized learning the basic strokes, including forehand, backhand, overhead, serve and volley. They ended each day with games such as doubles and around the world.

"I started with classes like this. Then I took private lessons," said Zertuche, who opted to play tennis instead of baseball during his final two years at Modesto High.

Carlie Casal, Katie Vierra and Alan Barth were among the seven students that attended the final day of the second session. They arrived at 5:35 p.m. and headed home at 6:35 p.m. last Tuesday.

Casal, 9, will enter the fourth grade at Whitmore Charter School this week.

Vierra, 12, will enter the seventh grade at Mae Hensley Jr. High School.

Barth, 14, will be a freshman at Hughson High School.

Carlie took up tennis four years ago. Her older brother Tony, a 2007 Ceres High graduate, helped lead the boys tennis team to a second-place finish in the Valley Oak League standings and Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Playoffs.

Asked why she played tennis, Casal said: "Because it's fun."

Founded by Stockton dentist and former UOP tennis standout Lancer Turner more than a decade ago, Future Stars 2000 has served thousands of youngsters in 15 cities in the Central Valley (Atwater, Brentwood, Ceres, Escalon, Livermore, Livingston, Lodi, Manteca, Merced, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Ripon, Stockton and Tracy).

"We're really trying to promote tennis here," Pollinger said. "It's a great sport. Look what the boys did at Ceres High."