Koons, Schmitz capture York-Adams League boys' tennis singles titles
HANOVER — It may not have been the best few days in terms of the weather, but it was certainly a good three days for Dallastown sophomore Hayden Koons.
The York-Adams League’s top seed in the Class 3A boys’ tennis draw, Koons drew a pair of his Wildcat teammates in the second and quarterfinal rounds. After dispatching No. 4-seed Kai MacLennan of Central York in the semifinals Friday, Koons found himself in the final opposite No. 2-seed Cooper Wheeler of Red Lion.
With the experience of already playing in the finals a year ago as a freshman, Koons dominated the first set against Wheeler. The Lions standout, however, took the first three games in Set 2 to create some intrigue inside the bubble at the York Adams Community Tennis Association facility in Hanover.
After suffering a marathon, three-set defeat against teammate Jonathan Arbittier in last year’s final, Koons made some adjustments to avoid a repeat of history. The left-handed hitter rallied back to even the match with Wheeler, and after dropping a game to fall behind 4-3, Koons swept the final three games to earn a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
In the Class 2A final, Biglerville foreign exchange student Guillaume Schmitz remained unbeaten on the season after defeating No. 3-seed Charlie Zitto, 6-0, 6-2.
Family tradition: Koons' older brother, Holden, won four straight league singles championships from 2016-19 and has put together a historic career for James Madison. Hayden overcame plenty of hurdles on his way to this title, including Saturday's battle with Wheeler.
“I played (Wheeler) in the regular season, and it was a very close match,” Koons said. “I think it was 6-1, 6-2, but it wasn’t an easy one at all.”
Neither was Saturday morning’s final, as Wheeler — who utilized an underhanded, soft serve because of a shoulder injury — was able to force Koons into some mistakes early in the second set.
“I feel like I handled (his serve) well,” Koons said. “It’s obviously easier to handle than an overhand (serve), but it can be difficult to get to at times. I kind of (stinks) that he couldn’t have (his overhand serve), but he played well.”
Koons was able to rally back in Set 2 by tiring out Wheeler during rallies. He hit left, right, short and long to keep his opponent on his toes.
“That was the strategy coming in,” Koons said. “For every point, I wanted to keep him on the move. It was a point of focus, for sure.”
Koons, who figures to earn a high seed in the District 3 Class 3A singles tournament next weekend at Hershey Racquet Club, won’t have a lot of time to celebrate his victory. He’ll be back at it as the York-Adams League doubles tournament begins Monday and finishes Tuesday. The first round of the district team tournament is Wednesday.
Koons will team up with Andrew Chronister, who won his consolation match against MacLennan, with an eye on back-to-back titles. Koons and Arbittier teamed up to claim the crown last season.
Dallastown is the third seed in the District 3 Class 3A team draw and will host Lampeter-Strasburg on Wednesday. South Western, seeded fourth, will host Manheim Township.
Setting an example: Having a foreign exchange student pop into any athletic program can be a double-edged sword. Existing players may resent the fact that their spot was taken from them, but Schmitz encountered no such problems according to Biglerville coach Matt Hartman.
“It’s a pleasure to coach him,” Hartman said of Schmitz, who improved to 16-0 with his victory. “He’s a team player, a great sportsman and has a great attitude. He’s an example of what our guys should be.”
While Hartman gushed about his standout’s play on the court, he was equally as excited to talk about Schmitz as a person. The Belgium native was instantly accepted by his classmates and teammates both in soccer — where he was named the York-Adams Division III Co-Player of the Year — and tennis.
“It’s just a privilege to work with him,” said Hartman, who was former No. 1 singles player for the Canners during his high school career. “I’ve found that he makes our team better because not only is he a top player, but he’s just a top person. He’s just awesome. Sometimes at practices I’ll be coaching down there and he’ll be serving, but he’s also coaching his teammates on the other court. You just can’t ask anything more from a kid like this.”
The only disappointment for Schmitz during the draw was that he didn’t get a chance to face No. 2-seed Parker Sanders from rival school Bermudian Springs. Sanders was upset in the semifinals by Zitto, who will likely get a third shot against Schmitz during the District 3 Class 2A team tournament on Wednesday. Biglerville and Hanover are the second and seventh seeds in the draw; the Canners beat the Nighthawks, 3-2, on April 19.
“I wanted to play the kid from Bermudian,” Schmitz said. “I was looking forward to playing him in the finals, but you know, that’s the way sports are sometimes.”
Littlestown's Cyrus Marshall knocked off Sanders in the Class 2A third-place match, earning the last spot in next week's district tournament.