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City, Ceres High coach offer lessons
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Maria Azevedo picked up a racket for the first time last month. The incoming Central Valley High freshman is determined to succeed.

"I'm trying to improve my skills so I can make the high school team," Azevedo said.

Azevedo and seven other beginners between the ages 7-14, including Amanda Garcia, Lorenzo Garcia, Kristen Knudsen, Trevor Knudsen, Larren Winn, Krista Doornenbal and Carlie Casal, signed up for tennis lessons through the City of Ceres Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department.

The second session started July 11 and ended on Monday. Lessons were offered on Mondays, from 5-6 p.m., at Ceres High School.

On July 18, Maria, Amanda, Lorenzo, Kristen, Trevor, Larren, Krista and Carlie worked on forehand and backhand strokes, volley and overhead smash shots at the net, and serves.

"When they first came out, they didn't know how to hold the racket," said instructor Garrett Deering. "There's been major progress."

Added Azevedo: "He's a great teacher."

Casal, 7, shined the brightest. The Whitmore Charter School second grader worked with Deering the previous month. She attended the first session, offered June 6-27.

"My parents signed me up," Casal said. "I'm having a lot of fun."

Deering, 41, was hired by the city to conduct month-long tennis instruction for youth and adults. Deering coaches the boys team at Ceres High School.

"I'm teaching them everything," he said.

"I passed out a pamphlet which shows the rules of tennis. Proper form is the most important thing I want to see them have. I also want them to have fun."

Seven individuals, including Valerie Casal, Tony Casal, Jessica Gutierrez, Darryl Lopez, Matthew Lopez, Kim Perry and Lisa Silveira, registered for Deering's high school/adult session, offered for the past month on Mondays, from 6-7 p.m., at Ceres High School.

"People are interested," Deering said.

"If it gets popular, I'll add more nights."

The Lopez brothers plan to play tennis at Ceres High this fall. Darryl, a junior to be, suited up for the Bulldogs last season. Matthew will be a sophomore.

Deering, 41, has been playing tennis for 27 years. He starred on the Ceres High boys tennis team for four years. Deering earned all-conference honors every season. His overall record was 125-13.

"Everything came natural to me," said Deering, who went undefeated in league play as a senior and junior. "I started teaching when I was 18 at the Modesto Racquet Club."

Deering has a busy summer schedule. The assistant pro at Del Rio Country Club offers tennis lessons and clinics to people of all ages (4-65).

"It puts a smile on my face seeing people on the courts," Deering said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier