This spring, Langley tennis Coach Griff Lamkin knew his players had the talent to win the Virginia AAA Northern Region championship. It was simply a matter of whether they would play up to their capabilities. They did.
Langley defeated Jefferson, 9-0, last week at Wakefield High to win the region and advance to the state tournament, played this week at Wakefield.
"The kids really worked hard this year," Lamkin said. "We're not through yet, but this really feels good."
Langley got sterling performances this season from its No. 1 and No. 2 players, Philip Shipp and Chad Ramsey. Neither lost a league match.
"We pretty much figured we had those two positions sewed up every time we played," said Lamkin.
"It was the [Nos.] 3, 4 and 5 that decided a lot of matches and we just played more aggressively in the lower positions."
The region championship was a good example. Not one match went to three sets. Shipp defeated Aaron Stolpman, 6-2, 6-1. Ramsey won, 6-1, 6-1, over Scott Frederick. At No. 3, Jim Snyder handled Jeff Persell, 6-3, 6-4. Tom Anderson, playing at No. 4, beat Curtis Choice, 7-5, 6-2, and No. 6 John Riedy defeated Doug Brown, 6-2, 7-5.
"There's no shame in losing to them," said Jefferson Coach Cliff Hickman. "Langley is more polished and more experienced. They've been at the game longer than our kids have."
In the region tournament, Lamkin felt that No. 5, Kevin Reilly, would have the toughest match against Kanu Jerath. Jerath took a 4-1 first-set lead, but Reilly settled down and began pressuring Jerath into a series of unforced errors.
Reilly took the initiative while Jerath, surprisingly, switched from attacking to defensive measures and stood back at the base line. Reilly, who had been attacking from the onset, began finding his shot, slamming consistent winners. He won the next four games, taking that set, 6-4, and then the second set, 6-2.
"I was having a tough time volleying in the beginning," said Reilly. "He was lobbing me and I wasn't hitting the overhead effectively.
"I was worried in the beginning, but I knew if I stuck to my game, I could come out on top. There was no way he could pass me all day."
In the doubles matches, shortened to one set because Langley had an unbeatable lead in the match, Reidy and Reilly won, 6-4, Mike Bracy and Mike Lovejoy won, 6-2, and Sammy Abuhamdeh and Maco Giraldo won, 7-5.
Langley improved its record to 19-1. Jefferson finished the year 14-1.
Ramsey, a freshman, summed up the season when he said, "I'm having good matches but I'm not having to play my best tennis. I really haven't been tested yet."
"I just got outplayed all the way across the board," said Frederick. "I knew what I had to do, but I just couldn't execute.
"I figured if I served well, I could control the points on my serve, attack there and do all right. But he didn't seem to have any problem with it whatsoever. And that, psychologically, was a real blow. Because I had to reorganize my thoughts and I never got it back together."