Holden Koons' reputation preceded him on the tennis courts at Dallastown High School this spring..
Koons was well known in the tennis community before he ever took his first serve for the Wildcats.
The oldest son of Dallastown head boys' tennis coach Mark Koons, Holden has shown the ability to compete against adult players locally while at the same time earning a national ranking in his age group.
Koons was ranked No. 42 in the nation in the Boys' 14 Division of the United States Tennis Association (he has since turned 15 and moved up to the Boys' 16 Division). A left-handed player, Koons is also listed as the No. 2 freshman player in Pennsylvania and a four-star recruit by the Tennis Recruiting Network.
"The thing I like about him is that he doesn't make errors," York Suburban head coach Mark O'Reilly said. "He hits the ball hard and keeps it in play. He won't beat himself."
Koons began playing at the age of 7, but it wasn't all tennis all the time.
"He played baseball and basketball growing up," said Mark Koons, who worked with his son on strokes and other fundamentals in the early part of his career. "We went to some USTA workshops, and all the guys there were big believers in kids playing multiple sports."
Holden also did some skateboarding, although he may be dialing back on that sport after breaking an ankle in a skateboard accident last October. He was 100 percent physically by the end of January.
Koons' focus now is pursuing his goals — York-Adams and District 3 singles titles — while helping the Wildcats in their bid to return to the top of York-Adams Division I. Dallastown, a perennial power, finished second to South Western last year.
"I think we should be just fine because everyone has improved since last year," Holden Koons said. "I always felt kind of part of this team because I came to practices and matches before I was old enough to play for them. It's nice having teammates cheering for you."
Koons will play in the No. 1 slot where John Schmitt played last year. Schmitt graduated in the spring after capturing the York-Adams Class AAA singles title last fall. The other slots are all filled with varsity-tested players — Hunter Jones, David Trimmer, Tyler Lilie and Sachin Venkatesh. Also, Jonathan Burns and Nathan Swartz earned singles points in a recent 7-0 victory over Susquehannock.
Challenging schedule: The Wildcats will compete against a number of high-quality opponents this season.
Along with the Division I teams, they'll take on Manheim Township, travel to the State College Invitational where they'll play the host team along with Lower Merion and Wyoming Seminary and go up against Cumberland Valley, Cedar Crest and Altoona in the Dallastown Invitational. The Wildcats dropped a non-league match to Lancaster-Lebanon League power Hempfield last week.
"We play South Western near the end of the season so I'm hoping that our schedule will benefit us as the season goes on," Mark Koons said. "I know that South Western is strong at No. 1 and No. 2, and Central has depth."
Rest of league: Gavin Kenny and Ben Sentz are at No. 1 and No. 2 for the Mustangs, and Chris Maderitz Connor Bacha and Kyle Varone are varsity-tested players for Central.
In Division II, York Suburban is the defending champion, but the Trojans are extremely young this year (one senior). Among others, they lost York-Adams Class AA singles champion Elliot Diehl and Michael Hogg to graduation.
The other Class AA singles finalist in 2015, Michael Andrews, is back at York Catholic, but the rest of the Fighting Irish lineup is new. York Catholic placed second to York Suburban in the division last year and won the title in 2014.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.