Mostly awes – few flaws detected – from county’s repeat POY “Wizard of Oz” Cherubini

Oswaldo Cherubini                                                                                                                                                   Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

BOYS TENNIS

In Year 2, Caracas native

guided the Eagles to 3A-5

finals in singles and doubles

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Hernando County’s finest prep tennis player has further entrenched himself at the top of the local tennis ladder.

Oswaldo Cherubini

Oswaldo Jesus Cherubini was voted the county’s best player after breaking into the sport anchoring the two toughest positions at No. 1 singles and doubles at F.W. Springstead last season.

The 5-foot-8, 155-pounder is a native of Pachira, Venezuela near Caracas.

The raven-tressed and brown-eyed Cherubini debuted in 2018. As a freshman, the posted a 9-5 singles mark, not losing to any local players (4-0).

In district play, after splitting matches with Lecanto’s tough Malik Tahiri during the regular season, he was ambushed in the first set by Tahiri at the Jonesville Tennis Center.

In doubles, Cherubini and his partner, Dylan Palmer, posted an 8-5 No. 1 doubles slate, including a 3-0 run versus local opponents.

A year later in 2019, Cherubini improved to 13-3 in singles play.

He went from being ranked eighth in winning percentage in 2018 to fifth in the circuit this year.

Year 2 was highlighted by a 4-0 run versus county foes.

In the 3A-5 Tourney in Alachua County, Cherubini reached the finals before falling to Vanguard’s Luke Zirakian, 6-2, 6-1.

Last season in district doubles play along the tricky clay courts of the Jonesville Tennis Center, Chrubini/Palmer fell in the 3A-5 semifinals to Ocala-Vanguard’s Spencer Stilich/Luke Zirakian.

This year, the Eagle tandem posted a county-leading 12-4 mark. That included a perfect 5-0 effort against Hernando County foes.

The Eagle duo lost in a three-set tiebreaker during the 3A-5 finals to Vanguard’s Luke Zirakian/Seth Robinette, 2-6, 6-0, 7-6 (10-4).

Outside of tennis at Delta Woods Park, “the Wizard of Oz” is an exceptional student/athlete.

He maintains 3.96 unweighted and 4.5 weighted grade point average as part of the International Baccalaureate program at SHS.

Fellow mentors were so impressed with Oz’s body of work, he wasn’t just named to the All-County team in singles and doubles again.

At 16 years old he was feted as the repeat Hernando County Player of the Year.

Cherubini 101

Oz was named after his father Oswaldo Jose and his mother Yasmina.

Mr. Cherubini played soccer in South America and is a physical therapist by trade.

Yasmina also provided terrific DNA as she was a gymnast. Locally, she serves as a Spanish teacher.

After relocating from Venezuela, the Cherubini’s have called Spring Hill home for the last five years.

Some fans might find it difficult to believe that Oz’s first organized sport wasn’t on the tennis courts – but on the pitch.

At 5 years old Cherubini played soccer.

At the same time, he was taking karate lessons. He took lessons until he was 9.

At 6, he picked up a racquet for the first time. He hasn’t put it down since.

Oswaldo Cherubini with his first trophy

Maybe it was in the cards, Cherubini’s first-ever tourney at the local tennis club at 6 years old, resulted in him returning home with a third-place trophy.

After relocating to Hernando County, Cherubini attended Explorer K-8.

Explorer K-8 Bobcats

He instantly gravitated to one sport – tennis.

As a sixth grader, he anchored the No. 1 singles position for the Bobcats.

He played on the team in seventh- and eighth-grade.

Due to missing one match (due to injury) as a seventh-grader, he was not the county’s best player as an seventh grader.

But in his eighth-grade year, he went undefeated and walked away from middle school as the county’s top player.

Upon enrolling at the Mariner Boulevard campus of F.W. Springstead, he joined the cross country team as a freshman and played the last two seasons of tennis under Brett Teitelman.

Outside of tennis, Cherubini doesn’t take his academics lightly.

His favorite courses so far have included computer science and IB pre-calculus.

Even at his tender age, he’s attempted to map out his future.

He’d like to be a software engineer or a computer programmer.

His No. 1 goal is to become a professional tennis player.

If that doesn’t occur, he’d like to be a coding programmer.

Evaluating 2019

Local mentors lauded Cherubini for his efforts.

Brett Teitelman

“Tremendous work ethic … Started to transform himself into an elite player,” stressed four-time Hernando County Coach of the Year Teitelman of Springstead. “He did so by improving his physical prowess … and fitness level … He’s more of a baseline player, but he’s getting better at closing out points at the net.”

Tom Brown

“Been the best player around here,” added Nature Coast Technical’s veteran skipper Tom Brown. “Quality kid … Can hit shots from any point on the court.”

Scott Dedmon

“He’s an all-around great player,” shared HCA’s Scott Dedmon. “Moves well … Was by far the best player I saw this year.”

Bob Croyle

“He’s very consistent … He keeps the ball in play,” emphasized Weeki Wachee’s Bob Croyle. “Doesn’t make many unforced errors … His behavior is great on the court, too.”

Herman Scriven

“The kid loves the game … Definitely plays aggressively on both sides of the court,” defended Hernando High’s Herman Scriven.

“Type of player that comes in with a game plan and makes adjustments as he goes.“

In looking back at 2019, Cherubini put the cards on the table, “It was a good season, but it could’ve been better. To go further in districts, I have to become a better player.

Oswaldo Cherubini

“… I feel like need more endurance. I like playing the more aggressive players. They‘re usually older and they really challenge me,” explained Cherubini.

On the Springstead prospects, “We graduate some seniors. We‘ll try to stay undefeated for as long as we can. All each of us can do is try our best.”

On his reaction to being named POY again, “This is awesome,” grinned Cherubini. “It‘s great to be the best kid in the county, but my goals are to just get better. I want to get out of districts and eventually play against the best at states.”

Similar to last season, Cherubini is eyeing a district finals berths in singles and doubles.

Oswaldo Cherubini

“I had great matches at No. 1 singes and No.1 doubles finals this year,” he stressed. “The Vanguard kid (Zirakian) was definitely a good player. I know I can perform at his level; it‘s more of a mental thing right now.”

Coach Teitelman, who has mentored tennis players locally for 20 years, has stressed to Cherubini to continue working on his backhand slice.

“I’m trying to get my consistency back in my backhand,” noted Oz.

Cherubini’s father has stressed to him the importance of being mentally prepared each time he walks on the court and stressed his dedication to the sport.

“Regardless of how I’m feeling or if I have two tests the next day, dad is always stressing to me to keep pushing through,” said Cherubini.

Cherubini, who enjoys the adrenaline rush of competition, says one of the keys toward the future is his serving.

“My serve has improved,” Cherubini said. “as I’ve gotten stronger. Often times they don’t expect me to whiz a first serve by my opponents – but that’s my goal.”

In breaking down his game, “When I walk on to the courts, I want to make plays; I want to be in control of the action on the court,” he stressed.

“In a regular match, I want to return and serve and hit a few drop shots in.”

After zero district titles in two seasons, that serves as plenty of motivation for Cherubini.

Dylan Palmer

“Having zero district championships so far motivates me a lot,” he said. “I know it could be done.”

After losing three seniors off this year’s team, Cherubini said he’ll miss Palmer the most.

“Dylan’s serve is one of the strongest around,” noted Cherubini. “The biggest difference is our stamina. I’ll miss hitting with him every day.”

By the Numbers:

Springstead’s Oswaldo Cherubini (2018-19)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

SINGLES

Oswaldo Cherubini
 

YR

 

W

 

L

 

.PCT

2018*

9

5

.643

2019*

13

3

.813

 

TOT

 

22

 

8

 

.733

* Denotes named All-Hernando County.

DOUBLES

Oswaldo Cherubini
 

YR

 

W

 

L

 

.PCT

2018*

8

5

.615

2019*

12

4

.750

 

TOT

 

20

 

9

 

.690

* Denotes named All-Hernando County.

 

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