It was perhaps fitting that Nick Koenig was a big part of George Washington’s championship-clinching points Saturday at the state tennis tournament.
But it could have been anybody on the tight-knit Patriots tennis team, which picked up the slack for temporarily fallen teammate Zack Koenig, Nick’s brother. That included Thomas McIntosh, Nick Koenig’s No. 2 doubles partner.
When the Nick Koenig-McIntosh combination knocked off Parkersburg’s Rhone Thrash and Neema Saadevandi 6-3, 6-0, that clinched the state team title and finished the Patriots’ “all’s well that ends well” weekend.
“It was challenging, very challenging,” said GW coach Chris Luckett. “Who would have known that we’d be one up [after Friday], trying to figure out points all day, trying to figure out how you get two more points.”
Zack Koenig, who suffered severe dehydration during his singles semifinal match, recovered well enough to attend GW’s graduation. His teammates celebrated by bringing home three titles Saturday.
As expected, the Patriots won their second state title in a row and 16th all-time. GW finished with 16 points, with Huntington sneaking into second with 12.
Parkersburg finished with 12, but Huntington won a tiebreaker with its three position championships.
One was a roll-the-ball-out given, Hunter Tubert’s 6-1, 6-1 victory over GW’s Ryan Massinople in No. 1 singles. Tubert and teammate Austin Preece had to gut out a three-set victory at No. 1 doubles, and Chip Sweeney beat GW’s Chip Sweeney at No. 4 singles.
Otherwise, the day belonged to the Patriots, playing without their No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. They picked up one break when Morgantown’s Steven Wu denied Parkersburg’s Tris Spitsnaugle in a three set No. 2 singles final.
When that finished, Nick Koenig had already diced up Parkersburg’s Josh Roberts at No. 3 singles, setting up his clinching doubles win with McIntosh a few hours later.
Luckett said, “Nick and Thomas, and [Ryan] Mullins too, they’re my sophomores. They understand. When we went to Louisville [for a prestigious tournament, which GW won], I put Nick at the No. 6 singles spot and Thomas, I put him at the 2 spot. I said, basically, ‘You guys are my anchors for this team,’ and they always have been.
“They know how to win big points. These kids have been playing since they were 4 years old, probably. When they’re playing that much tennis and they’re all best friends, that makes it easier in communicating and working in a doubles match.”
The No. 3 doubles team of Mullins and Brent Horswell, who scored an uplifting victory late Friday, won over Huntington.
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Huntington’s girls threw an historic exclamation point in their fourth straight championship, winning at all seven positions to finish with a perfect 22 points.
That started with Cassie Mercer finishing her wrecking-ball career before heading to Virginia with a win at No. 1 singles, Kate Huck winning at No. 2 and the two winning at No. 1 doubles. It finished with the No. 3 doubles tandem of Nicole Oliashirazi and Leah Simon fending off Ashley Casto and Verena Hohe of Parkersburg.
George Washington suffered three casualties along the way, in Nos. 3 and 4 singles and No. 2 doubles. That denied the Patriots a shot at the runner-up trophy, which went to Morgantown in a tiebreaker over Parkersburg, University and Hurricane.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.