Oct. 10, 2012
Bearcat tennis heads to ITA Championships
By David Boyce
The Northwest Missouri State doubles team of junior Luis Altimires and Sergio De Vilchez enter the ITA Small College Nationals in Mobile, Ala., somewhat of a mystery.
They are unseeded in the tournament, a position they conquered about three weeks ago and became be one of eight teams vying for a national title.
Back on Sept. 21, Altimires and De Vilchez went into the ITA Central Regional unseeded and left on Sept. 23 with a regional title and a spot in nationals.
“We didn’t expect it, but we came from the Washburn tournament winning it so we were looking forward to it,” Altimires said. “Even though we weren’t seeded, we knew we had a chance. After beating the second team easy, we had so much confidence.”
Their confidence continues to grow. Altimires and De Vilchez left Wednesday for nationals with coach Mark Rosewell. They will take on No. 2 seed Hans Hach and Borja Cortes of Abilene Christian at 1 p.m. Thursday.
“Yes they can win it, but it is going to be tough because all eight teams are good,” Rosewell said. “There are teams who have been there before. For our guys, it is their first time. Experience is huge.”
Regardless of what happens in the first match, Altimires and De Vilchez will play three matches and gain valuable experience to help them in the spring.
“I think it will give us a lot confidence and experience,” Altimires said. “We will have experience in doubles that no other teams will have.
“We are very excited. It is going to be very tough competition. The eight best teams in the whole nation will be there. Anything can happen. We are going to play our best. There is no pressure.”
It didn’t take Altimires and De Vilchez to quickly develop court chemistry. They are both from Spain.
“Since the very first week, we started playing doubles together to see how we played together,” Altimires said. “We had really good challenge matches. We were feeling better and better. We have different tactics and different plays in mind.
Altimires said his lefty serve is his strength and he likes to come to the net and volley.
De Vilchez said he is good at returning serve. Rosewell quickly added that De Vilchez has an all-court game.
In fact, his tennis is so advance that he will be the Bearcats No. 1 singles player in the spring. Rosewell said De Vilchez probably would have won the ITA regional singles title if he didn’t twist his ankle before the championship match.
“Yes, I have confidence in my game,” De Vilchez said. “My dad, when he was young, played tennis.”
If Altimires and De Vilchez win a couple of matches this week at nationals, expect their confidence to grow more.
“I want them to see the best possible teams in Division II,” Rosewell said. “Traveling in the Midwest, we don’t always see those great teams in Florida and even Texas sometimes because it is such a long ways away.
“They do a great job of taking the net away from their opponents. They are always going forward. Sometimes you may not be strong in singles, but are in doubles because you can play that net and return.”
Truthfully, Altimires has no idea how they will do in doubles. He is certain about one thing:
“I enjoy the competition,” Altimires said. “When you compete, the feeling you get, whether you win or lose, I enjoy the challenge.”
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