By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Alejandro Serrano Osoba, a freshman who came to Cardinal Newman by way of Spain, captured the NBL tennis singles tournament on Saturday in Rohnert Park.
The freshman defeated reigning league champion Alec Wong from Rancho Cotate, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-3.
Serrano will now represent the league at the NCS Division 2 tournament on May 8 at College of Marin.
This was the third time Serrano and Wong have played. Wong won the first meeting and Osoba has taken the last two.
Saturday’s match, played at M Park, had plenty of ups and downs.
In the opener, both players lost serve several times before Osoba was able serve out the set.
Wong regrouped and the second set went to a tiebreaker with the Rancho player winning, 8-6.
Wong, who is a junior, started quickly in the deciding set by taking the first game. However, Osoba then reeled off five consecutive games to take a commanding lead. Wong was able to win two in a row before his opponent served out the match.
It was the second match of the day for both players. In the semifinals, Wong defeated Cardinal Newman’s Connery Gschwend, 6-0, 6-1, while Osoba dispatched Valentin Lohmer of Maria Carrillo, 6-1, 6-2.
Tony Greco, the coach at Newman, said Osoba had him concerned heading to the deciding set.
“He was tired and nervous,” Greco said. “I tried to settle him down.”
Osoba listened well.
“Both Alec and I were tired,” he said. “I kept telling myself to calm down and was able to handle the moment. My strategy going into the match was to keep calm no matter if I won or lost a point. Also, I wanted to keep the ball in play until I got a chance to attack.”
Turns out, Wong shared the same game plan.
“I was trying to keep the ball in play and it turned out he was better at it than I was,” Wong said.
“Alejandro played pretty well but I made too many unforced errors, especially in the third set when he won five games in a row. When I hit a bad shot, he kept taking advantage of it.
“I was nervous before the match even started and I was anxious, too.
“It’s pretty disappointing because I can play better.”
Osoba, who has aspirations of becoming a tennis professional, grew up in Marbella, Spain.
He came to Santa Rosa before the school year began. He lived with a local family until two months ago when his parents, Leopoldo and Alexandra, arrived in Santa Rosa.
“I’m going back to Spain this summer but plan on coming back next fall,” the 14-year-old said.
Osoba began playing tennis seven years ago.
“I really like that it’s a game where you don’t have to depend on anyone else,” he said. “It’s not like a team sport.”