Koontz Earns Three-Peat in Men’s Final

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Koontz Earns Three-Peat in Men’s Final

All hail King Koontz!

That’s Hunter Koontz, who rolled to his third consecutive men’s singles title in the Mercedes-Benz Greater Richmond Tennis Championships on Sunday with a 6-2, 7-5 decision over second-seeded Kyle Parker.

“He’s got a good grip on the city tournament right now,” said Parker, a teaching pro at Raintree Swim and Racquet Club, where the event was held for the third straight year after moving from its long-time site at Byrd Park.
Parker, 26, was the runner-up to Koontz in 2016 but managed only two games in that match.

“I’m getting a little better each year towards him,” said Parker. “Maybe next year, I’ll win a set and maybe in 2019, I’ll win it.”

The way Koontz is dispensing with opponents these days, it’s going to take a strong effort by someone to overcome the lanky, 24-year-old’s big serve and deep ground strokes that he doesn’t miss very often.
Koontz never trailed, and his only hiccup came at 5-4 in the second set when he was serving for the match and was broken. The former Virginia Tech standout quickly regained his stroke and claimed the final two games to wrap it up.

“It was really high-quality tennis in the second set from both of us,” said Koontz, a former star for Deep Run High School.

Parker, who played collegiately for College of Charleston, needed a medical timeout down 1-4 in the opening set because of a sore left elbow.

“That’s when I took some Ibuprofen and put some icy hot [pads] on it,” said Parker, a lefty. “It took a couple of games to kick in. Couple games into the second set, it started to loosen up a little bit so then I could hit through my shots more.

“I tried to fight through it. I didn’t want to retire. I wanted to at least fight for the crowd and myself.

“It made it a little more competitive in the second set. He still got the better of me but we had some good points. I hit some really good shots, he hit some really good shots. He just hit a couple more than I did. That’s how tennis goes.”

Although he was at less than 100 percent, Parker wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t making excuses because of the elbow.

“He played well. He deserved to win,” said Parker, a former Mills Godwin High ace. “Just say Hunter beat my butt. Again.”

Koontz knew he had something of an advantage because of the injury to Parker but he kept pounding away with his ground strokes, in much the same manner in which he had subdued rising star Chase Bernstine in the semifinals by a similar score.

“I don’t know how many more years I can go before someone like Chase is going to go off to Virginia Tech and get a ton better and come back and be able to beat me pretty handily pretty soon,” said Koontz. “So I’m going to cherish this win and definitely try again next year.

“It’s one of my favorite tournaments to play,” added the assistant pro at the Country Club of Virginia.

In addition to receiving the top prize of $500, Koontz has his name engraved once more on the Lou Einwick Trophy, emblematic of the men’s champion.

The three-peat by Koontz marked the first time someone had won three straight since Sean Steinour took four in a row from 2002-05

In the men’s doubles final, Parker gained a measure of revenge when he teamed with newcomer Ille van Engelen to outlast the duo of Koontz and Tomas Gonzalez 1- 6, 6-1, 7-5. Van Engelen is a former Ohio State standout who now works in Richmond.

 

 

In the men’s 40 singles final, Chris Wallace cruised past David Magner 6-0, 6-2.

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