Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 28, 2014

Advance efforts: BSC prepares to host tennis regionals

BLUEFIELD — With the top ranking in the Atlantic Region of NCAA Division II, Bluefield State College men’s tennis is a virtual lock to be hosting the regional tournament this weekend at Bluefield City Courts.

The wait is nearly over for the NCAA’s formal announcement of the brackets at 8 p.m. tonight. The plan is for matches this Saturday, Sunday and next Monday.

“We’re excited, obviously, to be playing in the regionals for the third straight time,” said BSC head coach Louis Belt, “to try to be the best team in a region that includes four conferences, three states and 30 schools.”

A lot of the advance work for the regionals has already taken place — beginning with a regular season that put the Big Blues in the driver’s seat.

Bluefield State posted a 17-3 record overall, and an 11-0 mark against Atlantic Region opponents to earn their top spot in the season’s final regional rankings.

“Our athletes work incredibly hard, and you have to appreciate it for the achievement’s sake of it,” Belt said.

The second and third rankings go to West Virginia Wesleyan (13-3, 13-3 in region) and to the University of Charleston (12-3, 11-2). The Bobcats beat UC 5-3 to earn the first Mountain East Conference championship on April 20 in Charleston.

Bluefield State is not a member of the Mountain East, but the Big Blues’ record was enough to cement its place in the region. That gave BSC the option to inform the NCAA that it wanted to host the regionals again.

“It’s a great event,” Belt said. “If we can do it in our community, and get people to come out and witness it and be a part of it, we certainly want to do that.”

Malinda Berglund, Bluefield State’s sports information director and compliance coordinator, said that executing the application with the NCAA was “a lot of info. It took us awhile to go through it all and get it done.”

She said the NCAA required filing a budget and information about the facilities involved and area hotel accommodations.

The regional brackets will be revealed this evening in a “selection show” that can be accessed at the website ncaa.com.

The regionals will produce 16 teams for the Division II national tournament, set for May 14-17 at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Bluefield State hosted the last two Atlantic Region tournaments, and won them both. The Big Blues defeated Kutztown (Pa.) 5-0 last April 29 to reach the national tournament for the second year in a row.

In last spring’s national tournament, Bluefield State was defeated 5-0 in the first round by West Florida — which has a 24-0 record this year and the overall top spot in the South Region and in the national rankings of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).

— Contact Tom Bone at tbone@bdtonline.com

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