Valley combo qualifies for ITA nationals

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Valley juniors Lilian Blasque (left) and Adela Gil won the ITA regional doubles title. (Photo contributed by Ryan Carney)

OMAHA -- A pair of Missouri Valley College women took the doubles title of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional tournament at Omaha Saturday to qualify for the national meet.

Juniors Lilian Blasque of Andralina, Brazil, and Adela Gil of Barcelona, Spain, were the No. 3 seed in the regional, but won all four of their matches to advance to the Small College National Championship next month at Sumter, S.C.

After defeating teams from Ottawa (Kan.) and McPherson (Kan.), the Lady Vikings notched an 8-5 decision over another Ottawa combo to reach the finals.

Waiting for them there were a pair of Valley teammates, sophomore Macarena Bielsa of Madrid, Spain, and junior Beatriz Sales of Botucatu, Brazil. They had downed opponents from McPherson, Tabor (Kan.) and Morningside (Iowa) by 8-2 counts before recording an 8-1 victory over Baker in the semifinal round.

Blasque and Gil were given their toughest test in the finals, winning a pair of tiebreakers over Bielsa and Sales, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-2) to take the best-of-three tilt.

"It's almost unheard of to have both doubles teams play for a championship against each other," remarked MVC head coach Ryan Carney. "I couldn't be more pleased with how the tournament played out."

In singles, Blasque made it to the semifinals and Bielsa to the quarterfinals before being eliminated -- both by a Morningside player.

For the Valley men, sophomores Stefano Benedetti and Heitor Garcia had their tournament end in the doubles quarterfinal.

Blasque and Gil will compete with the winners of eight other NAIA regionals. Three other college levels will also take part in the meet -- junior college and NCAA Divisions II and III -- with the top teams from each going against each other in what is billed as the "Small College Superbowl."

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

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