PJStar Articles 03

2003 Peoria Journal Star Articles

A Historic Afternoon for Metamora – 5/25/03
‘Four’ All the Marbles is How Metamora Sees It – 5/23/03
Metamora Kings of Mid-Illini Nets – 5/18/03
Metamora Boys Tennis Gets Revenge on Road – 5/9/03
Mid-Illini Homestretch – 5/7/03

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 25, 2003

A Historic Afternoon for Metamora

At Less Than Their Best, Redbirds Win Richwoods Sectional

By DON BAKER

PEORIATy Wyffels of Metamora gained additional respect for Adam Gray of Richwoods as the two seniors battled it out Saturday for the Richwoods Sectional singles boys tennis title.

Wyffels defended his sectional title, but he needed three sets and a tiebreaker in the last one to beat Gray 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).

Wyffels advanced to state for the third time.  This year, the finals are next weekend in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

“My serve is usually what gets me out of tight spots and that was the difference at the end today,” Wyffels said.  “Adam’s a great player and we’ve always had close matches and he’s always been one of my biggest rivals.  That’s the best he’s played against me.

“We deserved to be in the finals against one another.  His consistency bothered me.  He hits at a good pace.  I’m usually more consistent than the players I’m playing, but that’s not true with Adam.”

Even though Gray has lost all three matches this season against Wyffels, this one left him with a smile.

“I’m more confident against Ty than I was earlier in the season,” Gray said.  “Today I played as I like to.  That’s the best tennis I’ve ever played.  That’s the best match I’ve been in.  I got up early in the first set and let it get away, but his serve is a ton.  I held his serve in the second set.

“I couldn’t have played any better in the third set.  He just played a great game.  I served smart, played consistent, and stuck to my game.  It just wasn’t quite enough.”

Metamora won the sectional team title, the first in the 17-year history of the school’s program.

Not everything went the Redbirds’ way, however.  Joe Withers and Jeff Bucher of Dunlap upset Metamora’s No. 1 seeded doubles team of Joe Harris and Kyle Shoff, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

“We didn’t think they could beat us three times,” said Bucher, who with Withers had lost to Harris and Shoff twice in the regular season.  “My returns were good today and they only broke my serve once.  We hit our volleys solid and didn’t play sloppy.”

Said Metamora coach Kelly Willard: “Truthfully, we didn’t necessarily have our greatest day today.  But one look at this sectional-title plaque makes them feel a little bit better.”

Dunlap finished second in the team standings, with 21 points behind Metamora’s 28.  Richwoods was third with 19.

Everyone who advanced to Saturday’s semifinals qualified for state.

Chester Dien of Dunlap beat John Hall of Woodruff 7-5, 6-1 for third place in singles.

In doubles, Andrew Ngo and Andy Laird of Metamora and Matt Grinstead and Victor Chan of Richwoods also advanced.  Chan and Grinstead took third by beating Ngo and Laird 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-0).

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 23, 2003

‘Four’ all the Marbles is how Metamora sees it

By BO RYAN

One four all, all four one.

Call that phrase the unofficial rallying cry for the Metamora boys tennis team.

The Redbirds begin play today in the Richwoods Sectional with hopes of sending all four of their entrants to the state tournament at Arlington Heights May 29-31.

“We’ve never won a sectional title,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “But one of our goals this season is to advance everyone to the state tournament.”

Needless to say, if Metamora qualifies all four entrants for state competition the Redbirds will have their first ever sectional title plaque.

Senior Ty Wyffels is the defending sectional singles champion and the No. 1 seed in the event.  He has qualified for the state tournament in each of the last two years. 

Wyffels qualified as a doubles player as a sophomore, and as an individual last year when he won a first-round match before falling in the second round.

Metamora’s No. 1 doubles team of senior Joe Harris and junior Kyle Shoff are also looking for a return trip to state.  The duo finished in the top 32 last year, earning honorable mention all-state status.

Harris and Shoff are the sectional’s top seed in doubles. 

Also hoping for a state berth for Metamora is sophomore singles player Nate Rauh and the senior doubles duo of Andy Ngo and Andrew Laird.

Ngo and Laird are the No. 3 seed and Rauh is seeded sixth.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance.

“We’d love to have everyone qualify,” Wyffels said Tuesday.  “We’re all playing really well right now.  We’ll have to see how the draw comes out at the seeding meeting, but I think we’ll have a realistic shot.” 

Other coaches think so, too.

“I don’t want to say the (sectional) is going to be a cake walk for Metamora, but it could be Dunlap and us playing for second,” said Richwoods coach Steve Knight.

“I have to hand it to (coach Willard),” Knight added.  “He has done just a little better each year.  He has a lot of dedicated players that play year around and that is what it takes.”

Metamora has won more than 40 dual meets during the last three years and won the Mid-Illini Conference championship for the first time since 1993 last Saturday.

“This team is special,” Wyffels said.  “We’re all good friends.  Everybody always seems to want to hit.

“We’re all dedicated and motivated and that includes not only the top guys, but also the guys who don’t play every day.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 18, 2003

Metamora Kings of Mid-Illini Nets

By BO RYAN

WashingtonTennis may not be pushing football as the marquee sport at Metamora High School, but the MTHS racquetmen are certainly making a name for themselves in Mid-Illini Conference circles.

The upstart Redbirds, third a year ago, swept through nine-time M-I champion Morton on Saturday to claim its first league tennis crown since 1993.

“We didn’t expect a sweep, but certainly we thought we had a good chance of winning,” said Metamora coach Kelly Willard, whose team beat Morton 7-2 in a dual match last week.

“The thing that really helped us out, I believe, was that we came over here (Friday) and Thursday and practiced on these courts, said Willard.

“These courts (surface-wise) are very different than typical courts.  I don’t know if it helped us physically, but it certainly helped our mind-set.”

To no one’s surprise, Saturday’s championship matches were an all-Metamora/Morton matchup.  Morton and Metamora ended the conference season with identical 9-1 marks.

Only Morton’s No. 1 doubles team of Bryan Horvath and Jeff Erwin lost a singles set in advancing to the finals.

In fairness to Horvath and Erwin, they were the only championship participants who were not seeded Nos. 1 or 2, forcing the duo to play an extra match.

Metamora’s No. 1 doubles team of Joe Harris and Kyle Shoff claimed the Redbirds first championship of the day with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Horvath and Erwin.

Moments later, Metamora’s Nate Rauh clinched at least a conference tie for the Redbirds by downing the Potters’ Jordan Nestrud, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.

“(Those victories) were huge,” Willard said.  “You saw these guys pumping fists and yelling ‘come on’ and stuff like that.  And once we had the two . . . it made (Ty Wyffels) and (Andy Ngo and Andrew Laird) feel a lot better.”

Wyffels was locked in a dramatic No. 1 singles match with defending champion Andrew Martin while Ngo and Laird were being taken to a third set by Brent Belser and Ryan Bruso.

But when Martin’s lob shot sailed long against the Metamora stalwart who was leading 6-5 at the time and 40-30 in the second set, Wyffels raised his fists and yelled “Yes.”  The senior had rallied from a 2-5 first set deficit to defeat Martin 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 and give Metamora the outright championship.

“I knew what my match meant,” said Wyffels, who split two matches with Martin this season.  “I knew if nothing else happened the worst we could do is still tie, but we really wanted to win it outright.

“I have a lot of confidence in (Ngo and Laird), but I didn’t make any excuses and just assume anyone else would win.  I did what I could.”

Ngo and Laird eventually defeated Belser and Bruso 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4).

“I’m not so sure we had a bad day or Metamora just had a good day,” said Morton coach Pete Martin, whose team was looking for its first league title since 2000.

“We tried real hard to get everyone to the finals and said we have to win at least two.  We didn’t win any and my hat is off to (Metamora).”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 9, 2003

Metamora Boys Tennis Gets Revenge on Road

The Mid-Illini Conference boys tennis title won’t be settled until next week.

Metamora made that a certainly Thursday after it beat Morton 7-2 in a match that represented the first league loss of the season for the hosts.

Morton beat Metamora 6-3 in the teams’ first meeting of 2003.  Now, the Potters and Redbirds each have 9-1 records.

Whoever finishes higher in the standings at the conference tournament will win the overall league championship.  The M-I tourney is May 17 at Washington.

The senior-laden line-up of Metamora got a lift right off the bat when Ty Wyffels beat Andrew Martin 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.  Martin had beaten Wyffels in the teams’ previous meeting.

Metamora, Morton and Dunlap each finished with 8-2 M-I records last season.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 7, 2003

Mid-Illini Homestretch

Thursday’s Mid-Illini showdown in Morton will determine how many regular-season champs the conference will have.

Metamora, which lost 6-3 April 22 at home to Morton, will seek revenge against the Potters, who are undefeated in duals this season.

Morton coach Pete Martin leaned on his underclassmen to win the first event.  But Metamora coach Kelly Willard hopes his seniors can make their last dual with Morton one to remember.

“We have to have some of our seniors beat some of their seniors,” he said.  “That didn’t happen last time.”

Metamora tuned up at the Arlington Heights Hersey Invitational, one of the top events of the season.

“Not only was the competition good, but we got a chance to see some better people and see what they do,” Willard said.  “It sure couldn’t have hurt.”

The Redbirds finished 17th in the 32-team field, and Ty Wyffels won the No. 1 singles’ consolation title after he lost his first match.