Players such as Alejandro Serrano don’t stroll through the front door very often.
Especially from as far away as Marbella, Spain.
But there stood Serrano late last summer, in the administrative offices at Santa Margarita High School, seeking a new beginning at his second high school in two years.
The Eagles were happy to have the lanky sophomore, especially Boys’ Tennis Coach Doug Williams. He had never seen Serrano play, but a quick online search sewed up any mystery.
Serrano would have to wait another six months for his spring sport to begin. Once it did, he lived up to the hype, proving he wasn’t just any high school tennis player, but an elite one.
He helped the Eagles win their fifth straight Trinity League team championship, captured the league’s singles title and advanced through the first three rounds of the CIF-SS individuals before he was forced to withdraw from the round of 32 so he could return to Spain for the summer.
For the season, Serrano’s match record was 61-7.
“You don’t beat the guys he’s beaten this year without having an all-court game,” Williams says.
Williams believes Serrano possesses the potential to become the best to ever come out of Santa Margarita. Williams would know. He’s been coaching the Eagles since the school opened in 1987.
“I’ve had a couple of [Division I college] kids, but that was by the time they were seniors,” Williams says. “In light of the fact that Alejandro was only a sophomore, if everything finishes alright, he could be best kid to come out of here two years from now.”
Serrano was a strong age-group player while growing up in Spain. His parents, Leopoldo and Alexandra, realized he needed a more competitive environment to better his skills, but didn’t want to enroll him in a tennis academy where education often comes secondary to player development.
They also desired a Catholic school environment for Serrano and found a good fit at Cardinal Newman in the Bay Area, where he lived with a host family for most of his freshman year.
Serrano won the North Bay League singles title as a freshman and then represented the league at the NCS Division 2 tournament at College of Marin, where he advanced to the finals before losing.
Serrano returned to Spain following his freshman season as well, and a local paper quoted Serrano as saying he planned to return to Cardinal Newman in the fall, but instead he enrolled at Santa Margarita, about 500 miles south.
Serrano split his two regular season league matches against senior Ryan Brown of St. John Bosco, then rallied to beat Brown in the league finals.
“That was a high point of the season,” Williams says.
Serrano received a bye in the first round of the Southern Section individuals, won his second-round match, 6-0, 6-3, against Freeway League champion Victor Vo of Troy, and then beat Inland Valley League champion Corey Lunsford of Riverside Poly by the same score.
Unfortunately, his season ended there as his family had made arrangements to return to Spain the day after school ended, which was also the day the round of 16 was set to begin.
“They considered changing flights, but it was way too expensive of a proposition,” Williams says.
It was tough to see Serrano leave before he was finished, but Williams hopes there’s plenty more to come in the next two years.