Menchville this year was the first team from Newport News or Hampton -- or from the currently configured Peninsula District -- to capture the Eastern Region boys tennis championship in three decades.
But the Daily Press thanks longtime Lafayette coach Richard Goode for reminding us of this: He guided some darn fine teams of his own -- especially before Jamestown High opened, when the Rams were in Group AAA in the Peninsula District.
In 1991, Lafayette -- led by No. 1 player Hank Wells and featuring outstanding depth -- far outplayed teams from South Hampton Roads to win the regional. They defeated Cox 8-1 and Maury 9-0 before losing 7-2 to an outstanding Langley team in a state semifinal.
Then in 1995, Lafayette returned to the state tournament under the new rules that allowed two teams per region to qualify. The Rams edged Cox 5-4 and lost 5-4 to Maury to take second place in the region.
That Lafayette squad was led by Mark Tepes, who won the regional singles championship and went on to start for Virginia Tech. He sometimes competed against Harvard teams led by brothers James and Thomas Blake.
Lately, Tepes got back into tennis and rejuvenated his game enough to represent the United States in international age-group competitions.
Jay Nelson, who went on to start for Mary Washington, was among the district's best players of the era, too.
At state in '95, Lafayette lost 9-0 to E.C. Glass, which was beginning to become one of the best traditionally zoned high school teams I have watched in almost 35 years of following VHSL tennis. Glass beat the Rams 9-0 and went on to take second place to Mills Godwin that year -- and the next two. But in 1998, '99 and 2000, E.C. Glass claimed the AAA crown.
The Rams were regional semifinalists in 1993, '94 and '96, according to Goode. We thank to Richard for pointing all this out.
Once Jamestown opened in the fall of '96 and the two James City County schools went to Group AA, they split talent -- such as Kingsmill's -- that previously had been going to Lafayette. Both teams have remained mostly excellent through the years in Group AA, and we expect that to continue under the new VHSL configuration that placed Jamestown in 4A and Lafayette in 3A.
Like the Williamsburg area, we expect Menchville to stay strong for years, too. Now that the Monarchs have seen the standard, they've got a better idea what to expect.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun