PJStar Articles 01

2001 Peoria Journal Star Articles

A Flock of Redbirds Descend on T-C – 6/22/01
Redbird Tennis Tandem Just Got Acquainted in First Place – 4/01/01

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

June 22, 2001

A Flock of Redbirds Descend on T-C

Second-Round Play in Boys Division Has More Than a Touch of Metamora

By CHUCK JOHNSTON

PEORIA — The 33rd annual Journal Star Tri-County Tennis Tournament resembled a normal day of practice for the Metamora High School tennis team Monday afternoon.

Five varsity starters from this past season competed in the second round of the Boys 18-under division, including two matches side by side that had Metamora teammates playing against each other.

For a team that is looking to step out of the shadows of a successful football program that has four state runner-up trophies in the last five years, Metamora tennis coach Kelly Willard could not be more proud.

“The boys have really worked hard on improving their game,” said Willard, who has coached the varsity for four years.  “Metamora is obviously known for football, but with continued improvement, this team will open some eyes.”

Ty Wyffels, who lost in the first round in his first Tri-County last year against eventual runner-up Matt Kuban, advanced to third-round action by defeating Metamora teammate Joel Harris, 6-4, 6-0.

“I was disappointed with the loss last year and it fueled me to work hard on my game,” said Wyffels, who will be a junior in the fall.  “I joined The Clubs at River City and have worked extremely hard on my game, and the results are paying off.  I just wished we would have been able to play other people and not teammates.”

Not only has Wyffels improved his game, the entire team is working to make Metamora a force in the Mid-Illini Conference.

“The kids on the team absolutely love to play tennis,” said Willard, a 1988 Metamora graduate.  “Partially because of my urging and mainly because of their desire to play, the kids are playing year-round, fine-tuning their game.”

Andy Gravlin, a 2001 Metamora grad, defeated former teammate Andy Ngo, 6-3, 6-1 and will face Wyffels in the third round.

“I was on the team all four years in school and have definitely seen a lot of improvement with the team,” said Gravlin, a six-seed in the division.  “Coach Willard has done a great job with this team, and I know Metamora will be a tough test for years to come.”

The third Metamora showdown, between Wyffels and Gravlin, will take place at 3 p.m. today.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 1, 2001

Redbird Tennis Tandem Just Got Acquainted in First Place

New Doubles Team Gives Metamora Only Top Finish in Solid Invitational Effort

By MEGAN WATSON

PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team had an all-around good day at Central’s Maroon Invitational, but the best Redbird team Saturday was also the most unfamiliar.

Metamora’s No. 2 doubles team, comprised of junior Tony Winkler and freshman Kyle Shoff, was the lone champion for the Redbirds in the invitational.

Winkler and Shoff defeated Bryan Horvath and Trevor Kauffman of Morton, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1.

“They’re not normally doubles partners,” said Metamora coach Kelly Willard of the Winker-Shoff duo.  “They beat a Morton team in the finals.  They did their part of the deal for the team.”

Winkler usually plays doubles with Chad Whittington, but understood the reasoning behind the switch.

“We play Morton (April 3) and coach wanted to give them a little something different to look at,” Winkler said.

Winkler and Shoff only practiced together twice last week to prepare for the eight-team tournament.

“I think we played well,” Winkler said.  “We came into it knowing we could get beat.  We were struggling and not calling balls but we really pulled together in the last two sets.”

The Redbirds’ day was good but Morton had a slightly better one when it was needed.  Morton’s Jeff Schmidgall defeated Ty Wyffels 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles in the last match of the invitational.

The final match determined the first and second-place finishes for the two teams.  Morton won the tournament title with 19 points, followed by Metamora with 18.

Metamora’s Joe Harris at No. 1 singles and the No. 1 doubles team of Andy Gravlin and Whittington also finished second.

“We had a good day — everything went well,” Willard said.  “Morton’s awfully good so they’re probably deserving of winning the whole thing.”

“It tells us we’re not too awfully bad,” Willard said.  “We still have a ways to go.”