Metamora – The 2015 Redbird tennis campaign began with many question marks. Gone was the class of 2014, featuring four-time Peoria Journal Star Player of the Year Will Koehrsen, four-time state qualifier Mitchell Nguyen, and five other Redbird players. Those young men had contributed three Mid-Illini and three sectional championships to Metamora’s tennis history and would be impossible to replace. Metamora returned very little experience in 2015, with only Ryan Willard (jr) and Fletcher Koehrsen (so) having played significant roles on the 2014 club. The Redbird tennis team would ask new players to step up and fill the voids left by the previous year’s team, and they did so with remarkable results. Here are some of the 2015 squad’s highlights:
* After stumbling out of the gate with a 2-4 record on the first two weekends of the season (partially due to several missing players), Metamora’s tennis team finished 19-2 in its remaining dual matches, losing only twice by 5-4 scores.
* Metamora finished 4th at the 8-team Red & White Invite, 6th at the 16-team Bloomington Invite, and 1st at both the Washington Invite and the Chatham-Glenwood Quad. Along the way, the 2015 team gained confidence and experience that would allow it to close the season with a couple of spectacular weekends.
* At the Mid-Illini Conference tournament, the Redbirds played their best tennis of the year. Dunlap entered the event unbeaten and the heavy favorite to win the conference crown. However, Metamora’s tennis team played a nearly perfect tournament to capture its eighth Mid-Illini title in the last nine years. Junior Ryan Willard played #1 singles for Metamora and finished 3rd, capturing vital points toward the title. Junior Cameron Doerr played #2 singles and, after rallying from a 5-0 deficit to win his semi-final match 7-5, 6-0, he won a three-set final over Josh Phillips from Morton to win the #2 flight. Sophomores Fletcher Koehrsen and Carsten Boast handled the #1 doubles duties. They won very competitive semi-final and championship matches, setting the stage for #2 doubles to decide the conference champion. Juniors Brendan Axelson and Joel Sutter played #2 doubles and pulled out a straight set win over Dunlap’s duo to clinch the conference title for Metamora. It was a moment this coach will never forget, as the 2015 team truly overachieved to claim the conference title. The tournament was validation that incredibly hard work, smart doubles play, and extraordinary effort can and do pay off with great rewards. Incredibly, Metamora’s entries in the league tournament have now played in 31 of the last 32 championship matches.
* At the IHSA Dunlap Sectional, the Redbirds qualified both doubles teams for the state meet by virtue of their top-four finishes. Willard and Koehrsen advanced easily to the championship match for the second straight year and lost a competitive match to Richwoods, 6-3, 6-4. It was the tenth year in a row that Metamora’s top doubles team played in the sectional championship match. Metamora’s second doubles team of Axelson and Sutter had to survive a nail-biter in the qualifying round, defeating Washington’s doubles team 7-6 in the third set to make the state meet. It was the first time since 2011 that Metamora qualified both doubles teams for the state finals.
* The state meet brought more success for the Redbirds. Ryan Willard and Fletcher Koehrsen won twice in the main draw and once in the back draw, earning all-state status. They nearly won another round in the back draw, falling 10-8 in a third set super tie-breaker in their final match. Axelson and Sutter lost both of their matches but earned valuable experience and developed a hunger to return next year.
* Individually, the season was terrific. There were many individual achievements; here are a few:
* Fletcher Koehrsen assumed the #1 singles role for Metamora after four years of his brother (Will) playing the position. He did a terrific job in both singles and doubles, finishing 15-6 in singles and 30-6 in doubles. Fletcher’s doubles conference title was his second in a row. With Ryan Willard, he was sectional runner-up for the second time. He was named all-conference for the second straight year and honorable mention all-state. By advancing to Friday at the state meet, he helped Metamora have an entrant make the second day at the state meet for the 14th year in a row.
* Ryan Willard had a spectacular junior year for the Redbirds. He was very difficult to beat in both singles and doubles, finishing 18-1 on the singles court and 27-6 in doubles. His singles success improved his record over the last two seasons to 34-3. Playing with Fletcher Koehrsen, Ryan was sectional doubles runner-up for a second straight year. After missing last year’s state meet with a torn meniscus, he was able to play this year and finished in the top 32. He was all-conference for the second year in a row and honorable mention all-state.
* Doubles partners Brendan Axelson and Joel Sutter had breakout seasons for MTHS. Brendan finished 10-1 as a singles player and 26-15 in doubles, becoming a force in the middle of the line-up. He was named first team all-conference. Joel was 3-1 on the singles court and 23-14 in doubles. Winning the #2 doubles title at the Mid-Illini tournament to clinch the team conference title will forever be a memory they will cherish.
* Cameron Doerr came out of nowhere to be a huge contributor to Metamora’s success. Having never before played a varsity match, Cameron finished 21-9 in singles and 7-6 on the doubles court in 2015, often competing against and defeating players with far more experience and ability. His championship at #2 singles at the conference tournament helped clinch Metamora’s M-I title. Because of his outstanding season, Cameron was named first team all-conference.
* Jordan Rivera, Carsten Boast, and Bobby Kessler were each contributors to Metamora’s success as well. Jordan finished 5-6 in singles and 14-9 in doubles. Carsten was 5-7 in singles and 12-2 in doubles (including the #1 Mid-Illini title), despite playing a portion of the season with a cast on his left wrist. Bobby finished 2-2 in singles and 15-4 in doubles. Each of these three players stepped into the line-up when asked and performed well, giving Metamora depth and succes, particularly in two singles, three doubles format events.
The 2015 Metamora tennis team did not feature the most talent of the last dozen Redbird tennis teams. What it did feature, however, was incredible team camaraderie, an unsurpassed work ethic, and a desire to achieve that cannot be taught. Capturing the program’s eighth Mid-Illini title in the last nine years was the highlight, to be sure. However, the entire season was a highlight, as a group of players with not much varsity tennis experience grew and grew during the year, leading up to the conference championship moment. To see them rewarded with the league title was emotional and incredibly satisfying. I have never been more proud of a tennis team.
The 2016 Redbird team will return every player from 2015. They have learned how to be successful and will hopefully apply that knowledge toward a terrific 2016.
Congratulations to the Metamora Redbird tennis team on another fantastic season!!
Redbirds Take Summer Trip to Champaign
vs Champaign Area (Redbirds won 12 of 16 matches)
1 Win (F. Koehrsen) 6-1, 6-0
2 Win (R. Willard) 6-3, 6-4
3 Win (C. Doerr) 6-4, 7-6
4 Loss (B. Axelson) 7-5, 6-3
5 Loss (C. Boast) 6-0, 6-4
6 Win (J. Rivera) 7-6, 6-1
7 Loss (J. Sutter) 6-3, 6-2
8 Win (B. Kessler) 6-3, 6-3
9 Win (B. Babcock) 7-6, 6-4
10 Win (J. Olsen) 6-0, 6-4
11 Win (S. Russell) 6-4, 6-4
1 Win (F. Koehrsen / R. Willard) 8-0
2 Win (B. Axelson / C. Boast) 8-3
3 Win (J. Sutter / J. Rivera) 8-1
4 Win (C. Doerr / B. Kessler) 8-2
5 Loss (J. Olsen / B. Babcock) 8-7
vs Belleville East (Redbirds won 14 of 17 matches)
1 Win (F. Koehrsen) 6-3, 6-0
2 Win (R. Willard) 6-1, 6-0
3 Win (C. Doerr) 6-3, 6-2
4 Win (B. Axelson) 6-4, 6-2
5 Win (J. Rivera) 6-3, 6-2
6 Loss (C. Boast) 6-4, 4-6, 12-10
7 Loss (J. Sutter) 7-5, 5-7, 10-7
8 Win (B. Kessler) 6-4, 6-0
9 Win (B. Babcock) 7-5, 7-6
10 Win (J. Olsen) 6-4, 7-5
11 Win (S. Russell) 6-0, 6-3
1 Win (F. Koehrsen / R. Willard) 8-6
2 Loss (J. Sutter / C. Boast) 8-5
3 Win (B. Kessler / J. Rivera) 8-6
4 Win (C. Doerr / C. Boast) 8-3
5 Win (J. Olsen / J. Sutter) 8-1
6 Win (S. Russell / J. Rivera) 8-2
vs Gurnee Warren (Redbirds won 10 of 17 matches)
1 Loss (F. Koehrsen) 6-4, 6-2
2 Win (R. Willard) 7-6, 7-6
3 Loss (C. Doerr) 7-5, 6-4
4 Win (B. Axelson) 6-2, 2-6, 11-9
5 Loss (J. Rivera) 4-6, 7-5, 10-7
6 Loss (C. Boast) 6-2, 6-0
7 Win (J. Sutter) 7-6, 5-7, 10-7
8 Win (B. Kessler) 6-3, 6-2
9 Win (B. Babcock) 6-2, 6-3
10 Loss (J. Olsen) 6-4, 2-6, 10-8
11 Win (S. Russell) 6-2, 6-1
1 Win (F. Koerhsen / R. Willard) 8-4
2 Win (F. Koehrsen / R. Willard) 8-1
3 Loss (C. Doerr / C. Boast) 8-2
4 Loss (J. Sutter / B. Kessler) 8-6
5 Win (J. Olsen / B. Kessler) 8-4
6 Win (S. Russell / J. Rivera) 8-3
Redbirds Compete at State Tournament
Willard, Koehrsen Named to All-State Doubles Team
Willard and Koehrsen were awarded a top 32 seed in the 128-team draw and won their first two matches handily. In the third round, the Redbird pair was defeated by the tournament’s number 1 seed from Glenbrook North. Undaunted, Willard and Koehrsen rebounded the next morning to win against Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin before bowing out against Normal Community’s top team, 6-2, 4-6, 10-8. The finish allowed Willard and Koehrsen to be named to the all-state doubles team, Metamora’s eighth doubles team in school history to be so honored.
Axelson and Sutter had two tough matches at the state meet but left having experienced the state’s best tournament and with the desire to return next year and pick up some victories.
As a team, Metamora finished out of the state’s top 16 for the first time in six years, ending a run of high finishes unprecedented by any small school in state history. It was a memorable, exciting weekend, and all four Redbird qualifiers will return in 2016 to try to have even more success at the state-wide level.
Metamora Redbirds Defend Mid-Illini Championship
Title is Metamora’s Eighth in the Past Nine Seasons
Pekin – (5/15) – The 2015 conference season came to a close on Monday, May 18 with a dramatic conference tournament at Pekin High School’s John Moss Tennis Complex. Dunlap came into the event with a perfect 6-0 dual record and was searching for its first boys tennis conference title since 2002. Metamora had other ideas, however, as the Redbirds played a flawless tournament in securing the league crown for the second straight year and eighth time in the last nine seasons.
The Redbirds played an unusual line-up to attempt to accumulate as many points as possible in the tournament, and the tinkering with the line-up paid off in a big way. Junior Ryan Willard entered the #1 singles draw and finished third, losing to Morton’s Chandler Stimpert in the semi-finals. Stimpert fell to Dunlap’s Victor Spolidorio in the championship match. It was the first time since 2009 that a Metamora player did not capture the #1 singles title. Spolidorio was the first #1 singles champ from Dunlap since Nathan Kunkle won the title in the Eagles’ first year in the Mid-Illini in 1999.
Willard’s loss in the #1 singles draw would be the only loss suffered by any Metamora player in the entire tournament, as the rest of the entrants scored as many points as possible in leading the Redbirds to the crown. Junior Cameron Doerr captured the #2 singles title, battling back from an 0-5 deficit in his semi-final match to win 7-5, 6-0 as well as coming from behind after a first-set loss in the title match.
Sophomores Fletcher Koehrsen and Carsten Boast won the #1 doubles title, defeating very good entries from Washington and Dunlap in the semis and finals, respectively. The duo roared back from a 5-2 deficit in the second set of the championship match. It was Koehrsen’s second straight #1 doubles crown.
Juniors Brendan Axelson and Joel Sutter won the conference clinching match, defeating a Dunlap duo 6-3, 6-3 in the finals of the #2 doubles draw. Axelson had lost to the Dunlap team a few weeks earlier with a different partner, so this victory was extra sweet.
Metamora won the tournament with a team total of 25 points; Dunlap was second with 21. Willard, Koehrsen, Axelson, and Doerr were each named to the eight-person All-Conference team for the Mid-Illini Conference.
The 2015 Mid-Illini title was extremely satisfying, as not many people viewed Metamora’s tennis team as the one to beat at the start of the 2015 season. The players worked and worked for this goal, and achieving it was very fulfilling and well-earned. Congratulations to the Redbird tennis team on another Mid-Illini championship!!!!!!!!
4th Place at Red & White Invite
Peoria – (3/28/15) – The Redbird tennis team played its first invite of 2015, hosting the Red & White Invitational indoors at The Clubs at River City due to poor weather. Metamora entered the event as the two-time defending champion but would be denied a three-peat. The first round brought Rockford Guilford in the two singles, three doubles format. Metamora defeated the Vikings 4-1 behind singles wins from Fletcher Koehrsen and Cameron Doerr and doubles triumphs by Brendan Axelson / Bobby Kessler and Bryce Babcock / Luca Calvaresi. The Redbirds were without the services of Ryan Willard and Carsten Boast for the event, so the other eight varsity players competed all day for Metamora.
In the semi-finals, Metamora was defeated by eventual champion Barrington, 5-0. Only Fletcher Koehrsen earned more than two games in his match, as the Bronco tennis team played exceptionally well in reaching the finals.
Metamora played familiar foe Dunlap in the third place match, falling 3-2. Doerr (singles) and Jordan Rivera / Kessler (doubles) picked up wins for Metamora.
Barrington defeated Teutopolis 5-0 in the championship match.
Metamora – (2/20/15) – The 2015 Mid-Illini boys tennis season begins soon, and the league will look very different from how it has looked in recent years. Gone are the supremely talented Will Koehrsen and Mitchell Nguyen of Metamora. Off to college are the superstar twins Grant and Trent Reiman of Morton. Other very good players have graduated as well. The entire Mid-Illini Conference, which has produced teams and individuals that have gone deep in the state meet every year for well over a decade, will be looking for some new stars to emerge in 2015.
Last year, Metamora won the league for the 7th time in the last 8 years, completing an unbeaten run through the conference with a sweep of all four divisions at the Mid-Illini tournament. Will Koehrsen and Mitchell Nguyen both won their fourth Mid-Illini titles (Koehrsen at #1 singles all four years; Nguyen at #1 doubles twice and #2 singles twice). Koehrsen finished in the state’s top 12 in singles. The Reiman twins also had a phenomenal state run, finishing an all-time league best 5th in doubles. Other Mid-Illini qualifiers included sectional singles champ Chandler Stimpert of Morton, doubles runners-up Fletcher Koehrsen and Ryan Willard of Metamora, and singles star Victor Spolidorio of Dunlap, all four of whom return for the 2015 season.
Metamora and Morton have combined for the last 12 Mid-Illini Conference titles and have won 19 sectional championships since 2003. The sustained excellence of the two programs has helped push the two teams as well as the rest of the league to never before seen results on a state-wide level. With the bulk of the stars having graduated last year, it will be up to the returnees to follow the paths forged by the recent graduates so as to continue the Mid-Illini’s excellent reputation throughout Illinois.
The 2015 season will be one of change for another reason in the league. The untimely passing of Morton coach Joal Stanfield in the fall of 2014 will have a profound, lasting effect on all who played for him, coached with or against him, or simply came into contact with him. It is this coach’s hope that all Mid-Illini players and coaches will compete hard, have fun, and put into perspective high school athletics as we enter into another wonderful tennis season.
Good luck to all Mid-Illini teams in 2015.
|Mid-Illini Conference Boys Tennis Teams|
|Team||Coach||Last Year||Last 5 Years|
|Metamora||Kelly Willard||20-2 (1st)||101-13|
|Morton||Pete Martin||12-5 (2nd)||68-21|
|Dunlap||Pat Gornik||10-9 (3rd)||39-48|
|Limestone||Bill Wallinger||11-2 (4th)||24-43|
|Pekin||Pat Lowder||5-9 (5th)||36-27|
|Washington||Dave Krostal||3-8 (6th)||25-35|
|East Peoria||Shane Smith||1-10 (7th)||18-33|