Three points later, Howat had to replace his racket after breaking three strings in the first one.
An omen for the kind of evening that Howat would experience in the York City-County Tennis Tournament's Men's Singles championship match?
The Lancaster County resident recovered nicely from the less-than-auspicious beginning to earn a hard-fought 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over York's Phil Myers. Howat, who lost in the quarterfinals of the 2011 tournament to Jeff Clark in his only other City-County singles appearance, earned the title in his second try.
Howat's ability to hold his serve throughout the match, even in the shaky first game, was the difference in the matchup of teaching professionals.
"I had to switch to a completely different set of strings, and that threw me for a loop a little bit in the beginning," Howat said. "I got a little bit nervous in the beginning when I was down love-30 (also 15-40), but I calmed myself down, and I was able to come back and win the game."
Both Howat and Myers stayed on serve in the opening set forcing the tie-breaker. Myers took two of the first three points, but Howat secured six of the next eight points to win the breaker, 7-4.
Howat pounded six aces and 12 service winners in the first set.
"He (Howat) has a big serve, and he can consistently put it where he wants to," Myers said. "I thought he served well. Everything else was breaking down on him except for his serve."
Myers relied on placement, more than power, in his serving, and it was just as effective. He served two aces and 10 service winners in the first set.
Howat broke Myers just one time, and that was in the first game of the second set.
"I stopped going with the game plan in the first game of that second set," Myers said. "You try to hit topspin with him, you're not going to win. I kept mixing in the off-speed stuff the rest of the set."
Myers had opportunities to break Howat, but he couldn't seal the deal.
"I had my opportunity in the first game of the match. I had two break points (at 15-40), but I couldn't close it. I didn't see another one (opportunity) for the rest of the set."
Howat said breaking Myers' serve to begin the second set was "very huge."
"I thought if I could get his serve after the break (between sets), that would be fantastic. Then I would try really hard to hold on to my serve. But he served great, give him credit for that."
Howat, who will be a junior at West Chester University in the fall, hopes to return next summer and defend his title.
"Hopefully, I would like to teach at Bent Creek (Country Club) and play in this tournament again."
Myers, a teaching pro at Wisehaven, definitely plans to be back next year. The York High and York College graduate also served as York City-County Tournament director for the first time this year.
He finished second in the Men's Singles draw the past two years.
"I hate losing," Myers said.
Adam Hack captured the Men's Singles Consolation final by defeating Devin Lehigh, 6-4, 6-1.
The two matches on Wednesday brought the 2013 tournament to a close.
The first day of the event was rained out, and there was rain, at some point, on four of the next five days, but the matches were completed each day.