HERSHEY - The most decorated freshman tennis season in York County history drew to a close Friday morning at Hershey Racquet Club in the first round of the PIAA tournament.
Dallastown’s Holden Koons — the 15-year-old District 3 Class AAA singles champ and son of Wildcats head coach Mark Koons — came up short in his state debut at against Strath Haven's Xandy Hammitt, the District 1 tournament third-place finisher.
Hammitt pounded out a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 decision against Koons to advance in the Class AAA singles tournament and end the scholastic debut season for District 3’s top Cat.
Koons was the only YAIAA player competing at states this weekend.
Koons and Hammitt are familiar with each other on the tournament circuit rounds. During Friday’s match, the Strath Haven junior seized on a couple of first-set service breaks, dropped a tight tiebreaker during an on-serve middle frame, then aggressively snuffed out Koons' baseline game down the stretch by attacking the net and choking away the alleys.
“He was just playing really well today, and there wasn’t much I could do about it,” Holden Koons said. “It wasn’t my day. His game, he plays either on or off. Today, he was on. … Big serve, goes for it. I just didn’t perform my best.
“It kind of stinks to out like this, but it was a good season overall.”
Hammitt’s aggressiveness was by design.
“I went aggressive right away,” he said, “because I knew he (Koons) could be consistent if I kept the ball in the court. I tried to end points quicker so I didn’t have to grind with him.
“I just had to go for it. We’re both tired, so I just started hitting out again.”
Mark Koons noticed right away that Friday might be a struggle for his son.
“A real slow start. Xandy was serving at 15-40 the first game of the match and Holden let him of the hook,” Mark Koons said. “Then, Holden double-faulted next game so he’s down 2-0. That first set, he never got back. The difference in that match is that Alexander served unbelievably. It’s tough to break him indoors when he’s serving like that.”
The coach said he didn’t think the freshman was battling any first-time state jitters.
“For some kids, yeah, but Holden has played so many nationals tournaments that probably have a similar feel,” he said. “So I don’t think the moment was too big for him. He knows most of the guys here.”
As the first freshman District 3 singles champ in at least 26 years, the coach framed the player’s first high varsity campaign.
“The great thing is how much Holden just enjoys playing with the guys and playing for his school,” Mark said. “Just being part of a team. That’s meant a lot to him and it’s been a real positive experience for him.”