Community news: Lafayette High grad gets world of experience as 35-and-over tennis star

Peninsula tennis followers from the early 1990s remember Mark Tepes of Williamsburg as one of the area's best young players.

Two decades later, Tepes' world of tennis experience has climbed alongside his age.

Tepes, a Lafayette High and Virginia Tech graduate who lives in Medford, N.J., has become one of the world's highest-ranked 35-and-over competitors. The International Tennis Federation lists him at No. 37 in singles — No. 2 among Americans — and at No. 44 as a doubles player.

In June, he gained one of his biggest titles, capturing the U.S. Tennis Association indoor championship in Brunswick, Maine. He beat 23rd-ranked Leif Meineke of Germany 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 and joined Kline Sack to place second in doubles.

Last August, he was a semifinalist at the 35s Grass Court Championships, where he lost 6-3, 6-2 to former Virginia Cavalier Hyon Yoo. "I played Hyon in the juniors and in college," Tepes said.

Last spring, he got to compete in the San Diego area as one of four 35-and-over men on the U.S. World Senior Team, which placed sixth among 20 nations, losing only to eventual champion France. Tepes said he earned a victory at the No. 2 spot against Canada despite trailing 7-5, 4-2.

That competition also featured older age groups, in which players included well-known former touring pros such as Jeff Tarango (40s) and former American Davis Cupper Rick Leach (45s).

"That was a great experience representing USA," said Tepes, who has a wife and three daughters. "I can only do this a couple of years. As (my kids) get older, I'll have less time to do this."

Tepes plans to compete with the U.S. team for the 2013 ITF World Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey, in March.

"I trained really hard for the June indoors," he said. "I should be on track to make the team."

Tepes, a former Peninsula District champion, started for the Hokies and then competed in some minor-league pro events. One of his best local victories, a 1994 triumph in the Newport News Open championship match against longtime Kingsmill pro Muri Ajibade at Huntington Park, is shown a few times per year on LSC 48, a Hampton City Schools cable and Internet channel.

Tepes is vice president of the family-run Peterson Service Company, Inc., which serves customers' needs in air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and more. But he wanted to stay active.

After playing a few local tournaments, he took the recommendation of some fellow competitors and entered national age-group events. "I turned 32 when I started back into it heavy-duty," he said.

As a USTA Middle States Section blog pointed out, folks around Medford might see him in the dead of winter, with his hat and gloves on, sprinting for mailbox to mailbox to develop his speed and agility.

More tennis

Marcus Crawford of Newport News and former William and Mary player Tom Winter of Chesapeake played for a mixed team that won the World Team Tennis Rec League Nationals' Senior (age 50-and-over) 4.5 Division last weekend at Indian Wells, Calif.

The Virginia Beach-based Short Skirts Long Racquets went 4-0 in round-robin play, including a 36-25 win over the Texas Twisters of Plano. Also on the squad were captain David Sloane, Toby Fanney, Kathy Courage, Laura Stone, Florence Deaton and Mike Heisler.

They earned their trip to the California desert by winning a regional event in Lancaster, Pa. Crawford said the final point was decided on the "no-let" rule unique to WTT and NCAA Division I men's tennis — a serve that flopped off the net cord to the other side, a let under traditional rules, went for an ace.

Field hockey

Bridgewater College defender Joan Burleson of Newport News recently was one of 60 players named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Senior Game, which will be held Nov. 17 at William Smith College in New York.

Burleson, 21, started all 19 games for the Eagles (11-8), posting four goals — including one game-winner — and two assists for a team that reached the semifinals of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament. She is a 2009 Menchville High graduate.

As a BC junior, she had three goals, one assist and one defensive save. As a sophomore, she had two goals, four assists and eight defensive saves — second in the ODAC and 23rd in the nation.

As a freshman, she started all 18 games, compiling two goals, an assist and three defensive saves. She began a streak of making the All-ODAC second team for three consecutive seasons.

At Bridgewater, she is majoring in athletic training.

Among the players invited to join Burleson at the Senior Game are Christopher Newport's Caitlin Cahill of Virginia Beach and two Lynchburg College players from the Peninsula area: Grafton High graduate Lindsay Leonard and Gloucester High product Shelly Milks.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad