Soon after his family moved from Northern Virginia during his middle-school years, the quiet, laid-back Jake Fields stepped into a school with a strong tennis tradition and made it stronger.
His place in Menchville record books will be indelible. Out of a possible eight Peninsula District individual tournament championships available in his four years, Fields won six — the singles titles as a junior and senior and an unbreakable 4-for-4 mark in doubles.
Perhaps he most will be remembered for playing No. 1 on two of the Peninsula's most dominant teams. As a junior, he led the Monarchs to an unbeaten PD season that ended in a 5-3 Eastern Region quarterfinal loss to Cox.
That was a pittance compared to his senior season, though. He and the Monarchs went through the PD without losing an individual match — the first area team to do so in modern history. Then they became the first Peninsula squad in 21 years to win the Eastern Region championship, doing so by scores of 5-0, 5-1 and 5-0.
"Getting the whole team to the states was the best," Fields said. "The fight for that was exciting and kind of new. Stu (Stuart McCroskey) and I had already been to states, but it gave the whole team a taste of that. Hopefully, the guys will use that as their motivation and their drive."
Fields plans to continue playing tennis for Division II Virginia State, where he should contribute immediately.
Julian Frings | Woodside | junior: A German exchange student who lived in New Jersey for much of his youth, Frings won every singles match he played except a pair against Menchville — one to Fields in the regular season and one to Matt Strehle in a Peninsula District quarterfinal. Frings has one of the area's hardest serves and a crowd-pleasing variety of shots.
Stuart McCroskey | Menchville | senior: Bound for Randolph-Macon, he went unbeaten at No. 2 in dual matches this season and was a PD singles semifinalist. The steady leader ensured the first state bid by a Peninsula District tennis team in the 21st century, winning a third-set tiebreaker vs. Princess Anne in a regional semi.
Kurt Mittmann | Bruton | junior: Developing his game in the offseason paid off as Mittmann captured the Bay Rivers District singles crown and took second to James Monroe's Fitzhugh Johnson in the Region I bracket. Excellent footwork, racket-head speed and passion mark Mittmann's style.
Sam Ross | Jamestown | senior: His play and leadership at No. 1 led the Eagles to the BRD championship and to second place in Region I. He took third place in the BRD singles tournament and reached the regional quarterfinals. Headed to Durham University in England, he could be the first local player who will compete for an overseas college.
Matt Strehle | Menchville | sophomore: One of the area's most improved players over the past two years used uncommon consistency and high, looping deep shots to earn a surprising regional singles berth. His only singles losses came to Fields in the PD final, to Hickory's Alex Krupp in a three-set regional quarterfinal and to Cosby in a state team quarterfinal.
Jake Fields and Stuart McCroskey | Menchville: Not only did they repeat as PD tournament champions, they also went unbeaten until the Eastern Region final — which they lost to Princess Anne's Fredric Lilland, southeastern Virginia's dominant public-school player, and Robert Levin. Showing their good chemistry on court, they almost reached the state doubles semis, falling in a third-set tiebreaker to Freedom of Loudoun County.
Kurt Mittmann and Patrick Riley (senior) | Bruton: They emerged from a highly competitive BRD as the tournament champs, then won a pair of Region I matches before falling in the final to James Monroe. They led the Panthers to third place in the Bay Rivers, well above their recent norms.
Mike Jones (senior) and Sam Ross | Jamestown: They guided the Eagles to another regular-season Bay Rivers championship, then took second place in the Bay Rivers tournament and reached the regional quarterfinals. Jones will play in college for Methodist.