Ckesa Templeton sat in a lawn chair on Monday near the Pollard Park tennis courts and watched her 14-year-old daughter, Mikaela Page, hit, serve and volley at a free youth tennis camp.

Templeton said she heard about the camp and decided to drive from Longview so her daughter could work with former Robert E. Lee and John Tyler high school tennis coach Ronnie Blake.

“It’s really strengthening her skills and her confidence,” Templeton said. “She’s also training and meeting new people.”

This is the 26th year the city of Tyler has offered the free instruction to children ages 6 through 15.

Mikaela said she has been playing tennis for about three years and will be a freshman at Trinity School of Texas in Longview.

“I thought the camp was really good,” Mikaela said. “A lot of camps have a lot of kids, but at this one I got some one-on-one coaching.”

She and about 30 other children spent the morning at the Pollard Park tennis courts working with camp coaches Marla David, 16, and Gabi Mercado, 18, both of Tyler, on overhead and forehand volleys, how to approach shots and footwork.

David, who plays tennis at Robert E. Lee, said she worked with Mikaela to boost her confidence. “She’s timid when she goes for a shot,” David said. “We’ve been working with her to get her more confident.”

Mercado said the camp is for young people of all levels of play.

“Some of the kids have never played tennis,” Mercado said. “We try to get them to relate hitting the tennis ball to playing miniature golf so they start hitting from low to high.”

David and Mercado said many of the students have greatly improved since the camp started on June 3.

Mikaela said her favorite tennis player is Serena Williams.

The camp runs through Friday.

No registration is required and participants can show up at any of the sites at 9 a.m. to take part in the camp.

The camp is held at different tennis facilities each day.

For the rest of the week, the sites will be:

Tuesday — Bergfeld Park

Wednesday — Fun Forest Park

Thursday — Tyler Junior College-Louise Brookshire Community Courts

Friday — Faulkner Park

Children will be placed in a beginner, intermediate or advanced class, depending on age.

Visit for more information about the camp.

TWITTER: @LouAnnCampbell

Crime and Breaking News Reporter

I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.

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