March 14, 2013
Well-traveled duo has Bearcat tennis back on top
By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri State men’s tennis team returns to action 10 a.m. Friday for its first home match of the spring season.
The Bearcats face East Central with a near-perfect 4-1 dual match record. Their only loss was a 5-4 defeat to Ouachita Baptist on Feb. 23.
Part of the early success is traced to a pair of seniors from Brazil. Guilherme Narducci, from Campinas, Sao Paulo, plays No. 5 singles and No. 2 doubles and Rafael Bugiga, from Birigui, Sao Paulo, competes at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles.
Narducci came up with a clutch victory at No. 5 singles a few weeks ago in the biggest team win so far this season when Northwest defeated then-No. 16 Drury at Drury.
The Bearcats were down 4-1 against Drury and needed to win their last four singles matches to eke out a win.
Narducci was playing at the same time as Northwest No. 1 singles player. It looked bleak for the Bearcats. Northwest freshman Sergio De Vilchez was taking on Drury senior Andy Blair, who won the ITA regional in the fall.
“I was playing close to him,” Narducci said. “It was really hard to play my match because I was watching him. It was hard to focus on my game, but then I got it done when I saw he got the win.”
De Vilchez pulled out a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 victory. Narducci went on to win his match 6-2, 7-5.
“It just pumps up our confidence and show that we have the potential to beat good teams,” Bugiga said.
Northwest appears to have all the elements to have a great spring. The team is led by De Vilchez.
“He is a pleasure to watch,” Northwest tennis coach Mark Rosewell said. “I never seen a guy hit the ball so hard and it is natural. His strokes are beautiful. He meets the ball way upfront.”
De Vilchez, who is from Zaragoza, Spain, fits right in with the seniors like Bugiga and Narducci.
“He is a good kid,” Bugiga said. “He is always cheering for us. He is a great teammate.”
Bugiga and Narducci understand how De Vilchez feels, coming to a new country to study and play college tennis.
The big difference is De Vilchez already had a grasp of the English language.
When Bugiga and Narducci arrived to the United States to be student-athletes at Laredo Community College in Texas, they didn’t know any English.
They were enthusiastic about learning a new culture.
“We are experiencing life,” Narducci said.
They learned English by listening to their teammates and working hard. While at Laredo, they also got to experience being on a national championship team.
“Every day is still a challenge for us,” Bugiga said. “Even if we get a day off from school and tennis, we are still learning how to speak English.”
Other than the cold weather, their final season of college tennis is going nicely. But they hope no more cold snaps hits Maryville. Most of the matches this year have been indoors because of the cold and snow.
“I am not a big fan of indoor tennis,” Narducci said. “We are from Brazil. This is our first time in our life playing indoors like this so it is a little bit harder for us so we have to make some adjustments in our game.
“The coldest weather for us is 50 and that is freezing in our country.”
As for the whole team, Rosewell said the Bearcats are still in the process of getting match tough. Northwest has six duals before its first MIAA match on March 25 at Lindenwood.
“It is usually 10 matches in if you are going to get there,” Rosewell said. “It is a process. You have to play. It is all about repetition. It is a good group, both teams.”
Narducci and Bugiga, who are both business majors, are excited about the rest the season and their future.
“It is so hard being away from our family,” Narducci said. “We both have a good future ahead of us.”
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