PJStar Articles 09, 10, 11, 12

2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 Articles

2012 Peoria Journal Star Articles

Metamora Sophomore is Boys Tennis POY – 6/12/12
Doubles Teammates Are Only JS-Area Players Still in Championship Bracket – 5/25/12
State Tennis Notes – Mid-Illini Well Represented – 5/24/12
Metamora Aces Dunlap Tennis Sectional – 5/20/12
Metamora Nets Sixth Straight M-I Tennis Title – 5/12/12
Metamora Fares Well at Pitchford Invite – 5/2/12
Redbird Winning Streak Halted – 4/18/12
Redbird Schedule is Fierce – 4/4/12
Metamora Talented, Deep – 3/29/12
Journal Star Boys Tennis Preview – 3/29/12
Metamora Tennis Kicks Off Spring In Style – 3/19/12

2011 Peoria Journal Star Articles

Lots of Good Will – 6/9/11
In With the Old, and New – 5/22/11
More First-Place Finishes for Metamora – 5/17/11
Metamora Boys Tennis Continues Hot Streak – 4/23/11
Redbirds Finish High – 4/6/11
117 – 0 – 4/6/11
Journal Star Boys Tennis Preview – 4/6/11
Youth Is Served in Mid-Illini Tennis – 4/5/11

2010 Peoria Journal Star Articles

Game . . . Set . . . No Match – 6/14/10
Metamora Finishes 10th in Team Standings – 5/30/10
Tough Second Day for Metamora Trio – 5/29/10
Metamora Comes Up Aces on State’s Day 1 – 5/28/10
Filling Seniors’ Shoes No Small Feat – 5/27/10
Metamora Completes Mastery – 5/23/10
Metamora Secures Title at Richwoods – 5/22/10
Sectional Shuffle Not Kind to Area – 5/21/10
Metamora Cashes Plenty of M-I Checks 
– 5/15/10
Remarkable Run for Redbirds Tennis – 5/12/10
Full Nest – 4/21/10
Rollin’ Redbird – 4/14/10
Mid-Illini Preview – 4/5/10

2009 Peoria Journal Star Articles

Top-Seeded Team Beats Metamorans – 5/30/09
Metamora Tennis Duo Into Round of 16 – 5/29/09
New Metamora Duo is Food for Thought – 5/28/09
Metamora Earns Sectional Title – 5/24/09
Metamora Tennis Three-Peat – 5/19/09
M-I Conference Showdown Set – 5/6/09
Mid-Illini Update – 4/22/09


The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

June 12, 2012

Metamora Sophomore Is Boys Tennis Player of the Year

By Josh Herman

METAMORA – Metamora’s Will Koehrsen has cemented himself as the premier boys tennis player in the area.  And he’s only a sophomore.

The 2012 Journal Star Player of the Year earned his second consecutive annual honor by joining the Redbirds’ top doubles team of Quinn Vaughn and Christoph Goettler as the only area players to win both a conference and sectional title.

But that’s not all.  Koehrsen went 40-5 this season as a singles player to finish with more singles victories in one season than any other player in Metamora’s history.  He also captured the Bloomington Invitational title, made it two rounds further at the state tournament than any other area participant and guided the Redbirds to a sixth straight Mid-Illini Conference title, a sectional title and a 14th-place finish at state.

“Overall it was just a great season,” Koehrsen said.  “We had our success as a team which is really important to me, not just the individual part of it.  I thought that overall it was pretty successful, and I had a lot of fun again, so that’s what matters.”

Koehrsen is far from the most powerful player downstate, but there’s something that separates him from the rest of the area.

“He’s spent his lifetime shrinking the tennis court for his opponents,” coach Kelly Willard said.  “Not only does that take away time from his opponents, but it creates sharper angles for Will.  I view it as he shrinks the court on his side, and he makes the court larger on his opponent’s side.”

Despite the lack of power, Koehrsen has twice finished in the top 32 in the singles bracket at state, and he knows that he’s getting closer to Illinois’ top talents.

“I’m right up there with them,” he said.  “I just need a little bit more practice and a little bit more experience . . . I think it’s just that extra little bit, maybe a little bit more power, little bit more weight lifting, or something that might help me get to that level.  I’m right there, though.”

2012’s Memorable Matches

Joey Leto, sr., Downers Grove South:  Koehrsen lost to the eventual 9-16 seed at state, 6-4, 7-5, during the Edwardsville Tiger Duals on March 31.  “That was tough because it was near the start of the season.  I thought it was a really good match, but he hits the ball really hard, so I had to keep mixing it up and try to stick with him.”

Peter Tarwid, so., Lake Forest:  In the third round at state, Koehrsen lost to the eventual sixth-place finisher, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.  “That was the third match of the day, and it was really hot out, so it was a really physical test.”

Brad Holt, sr., Homewood-Flossmoor:  Koehrsen’s final state match was a 6-3, 6-3 loss to the eventual top-12 finisher.  “I didn’t want the season to end, so I felt kind of bad after losing that one.  It was a good battle, though.”

Split Decision

Metamora finished in 14th at the 2012 state boys tennis tournament.  And with a listed enrollment of 935, it was the smallest school in the top 19.

In fact, the 13 teams ahead of the Redbirds had an average enrollment of 2,862, leading to suggestions that tennis split into two classes.

So, what does the POY think of a change that would make him one of the favorites to become a state champion?

“The way it is now is great because of the competition, but it’s kind of like the double-edged sword,” he said.  “On one hand, it’s good for competition, but we’re never going to win a state title, realistically.  Two classes would be nice, because we could say that we were a state champion, but it wouldn’t mean the same if it was against lesser competition.”

Coach Kelly Willard Says

“He just won’t give you the errors that some kids will give you and it just wears on you, until you find yourself going for too much and then all of a sudden you look up and you’re done.”

“Most kids want the ball to land and get up to its highest point and then start to come down again before making contact, but not Will . . . it takes great hand-eye coordination and great anticipation . . . being able to do that robs time from his opponents.  To me, that’s the biggest difference between him and the other kids in the area that are similarly talented.”

By the Numbers

40 – singles wins for Will Koehrsen in 2012, a new Metamora record, topping Stephan Rauh’s 39 in 2010.

0 – doubles losses this season for Koehrsen, who was seldom used in that spot, but was 6-0.

32 – Koehrsen finished in the top 32 at state, earning him honorable mention all-state honors.

15 – games lost by Koehrsen during his six Mid-Illini singles matches in 2012, eight of which came in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Pekin junior and eventual Bloomington Sectional champion Derek Rineberg.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 25, 2012

Doubles Teammates Are Only JS-Area Players Still in Championship Bracket

By Josh Herman

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – Metamora’s top doubles team of senior Quinn Vaughn and junior Christoph Goettler were the only players from the Journal Star area still alive in the championship bracket after the first day of the IHSA state boys tennis tournament.

The duo had three straight-set victories, but it wasn’t easy.

After breezing through the first round, they posted consecutive 7-5, 6-1 wins over Conner Wasz and Jack Wennerstrum of LaGrange Lyons in the second round and Eric Pohl and Sudeer Vundru of Palatine Fremd in the third.

It won’t get any easier for the pair, however, as they will take on top-seeded Michael Sellitto and Michael Levin of Glenview Glenbrook South in their first match on Friday.

A handful of players are still alive on the consolation side of the draw.

The only singles player from the area who was seeded, Metamora sophomore Will Koehrsen, dropped just five games in his first two matches, but had a tough loss in the third round, falling to Lake Forest’s Peter Tarwid, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

Koehrsen will face DeKalb’s Matt Kulma in the fourth round of the consolation bracket on Friday.

Morton’s top doubles team of sophomore twins Trent and Grant Reiman lost just six games in its first two matches, but lost in the third round to Highland Park’s Tom Haile and Andrew Zessar, 6-3, 6-3.

Juniors Chandler Clayton and Kevin Wang of Richwoods also won their first two matches of the day before bowing out in the third, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, to Patrick Logan and Patrick Spain of Alton.

Both pairs will continue play on Friday with fourth round matches in the consolation bracket.

LaSalle-Peru’s James Pellican and Reo Hammers and Metamora’s Mitchell Nguyen had championship bracket wins in singles, but each fell in the second round.

Morton’s doubles team of Wes Crandall and Jonah Laktas did the same thing on the other side of the draw.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 24, 2012

State Tennis Notes – Mid-Illini Well Represented

By Josh Herman

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – In the past, three schools had dominant boys tennis teams in the Mid-Illini Conference — Metamora, Morton, and Dunlap.  Now, even though those three still finished first through third this season, the one-time bottom feeders are showing a strong growth in talent.

Nowhere is that more visible than looking at the qualifiers for this weekend’s IHSA state tournament that will be played throughout the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Six of the seven teams that have a boys tennis program in the Mid-Illini have representatives at state, though Morton was the only one that qualified all six of its eligible players.

The Potters easily took the Bloomington Sectional title last weekend, defeating second place Normal U-High by 12 points.  The top duo of sophomores Trent and Grant Reiman took the doubles title and earned a 9-16 seed for state.  Singles players Taylor Nave and Calen Crim also advanced with third- and fourth-place sectional finishes, respectively.  And Wes Crandall’s and Jonah Laktas’ third-place finish in doubles also earned the pair a berth.

The Mid-Illini will also have representatives from Metamora, Dunlap, Pekin, Washington, and East Peoria, leaving Limestone as the lone conference member with boys tennis not to have anyone at state.

“The overall competition level around here is just getting better and better and better,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said early in the season.

“It’s good for everybody.  If you’re way better than everybody else you don’t have as much motivation.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 20, 2012

Metamora Aces Dunlap Sectional

By Josh Herman

DUNLAP – The Metamora boys tennis team continued its dominance of the Journal Star area on Saturday, winning its sixth consecutive sectional title at Dunlap High School.

The Redbirds took both the single and doubles titles for the third straight year, and also placed second in the singles draw for a total of 24 points, 15 more than second place which was shared by Dunlap and Washington.

“It’s exciting,” coach Kelly Willard said.  “And we talked about how sometimes you win a sectional because you’re seeded real high and you just kind of coast through the easy matches and pick up more points than everyone, but today I really felt like that wasn’t the case.”

An equal force on the area as his team has been, Metamora sophomore Will Koehrsen finally found a worthy foe in the singles final — teammate and fellow sophomore Mitchell Nguyen.

After dropping just five games in the first three rounds, Koehrsen had to battle to a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

“It feels great,” Koehrsen said of his second consecutive sectional singles title.  “I thought I played well, and it was fun to play a teammate in the final.  Mitchell had a great tournament so I congratulate him on making it to the final.”

The duo has often been paired together as Metamora’s No. 2 doubles team, and even though the two are friends, they still went all out in the match.

“We were trying to have some fun, but we were trying to be serious at the same time, and it was a great match,” Koehrsen said.  We play together every day in practice and it’s always a battle, so it’s nice to finally get a full match against him.”

The match of the day came in the doubles final where the much anticipated clash of top-seeded Chandler Clayton and Kevin Wang of Richwoods and No. 2 Quinn Vaughn and Christoph Goettler of Metamora lived up to the hype.

Vaughn and Goettler prevailed 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in an epic two-hour battle.  It was the second straight sectional doubles title for Vaughn, who joined forces with Nguyen to win the championship last year.

“You feel bad that not everyone can win something like that,” Willard said of the match.

Other players that advanced to the state tournament next weekend were Jonathan Gootee (senior, Dunlap), Drew Whalen (junior, Notre Dame), Bryan Kinas and Brett Grimes (jr./jr., Washington), and Aaron Kurth and Jake Ellis (sr./jr., East Peoria).

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 12, 2012

Metamora Nets Sixth Straight M-I Tennis Title

By Josh Herman

DUNLAP – Some call in a six-peat.  Some call it a three-peat repeat.  Whatever name you want to give it, the Metamora boys tennis team learned first-hand what it’s like to win its sixth consecutive Mid-Illini Conference title on Friday evening.

Despite a second place finish in the regular season behind Morton, the Redbirds capitalized on winning three of the four divisions during the conference tournament to capture the overall team title by a half point over the Potters.

So, it seems that the winning just keeps getting easier for Metamora.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”  coach Kelly Willard said.

Morton was clearly no walkthrough as they matched up with the Redbirds in each of the four division title matches, needing just one of its three second-place finishes to go the other way to break Metamora’s streak.

“The thing that’s really neat is if we were in a conference with less talent, we’d still enjoy the win, but this just makes it so much better,” Willard said.  “Morton is just so freaking good.  They’re the best team to finish second in this tournament ever.”

With Metamora taking the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles titles, and Morton winning at No. 2 doubles, the conference title came down to the No. 2 singles final match between sophomores Mitchell Nguyen (Metamora) and Trent Reiman (Morton).

Top-seeded Nguyen fought for the straight-set victory 6-4, 6-4 to clinch the individual title for himself and the team title for the Redbirds.

“I kind of thought that’s how it was going to work out,” Willard said of the meet coming down to the No. 2 singles title.  “Mitchell started playing tennis a lot later than most of the guys, so I’m happy to see his hard work got rewarded.”

Last year’s Journal Star Player of the Year Will Koehrsen made easy work of the No. 1 singles field.  The Metamora sophomore dropped just four games on the day for his second consecutive M-I title.

“I felt good out there today,” Koehrsen said.  I’ve been playing very well lately, and just brought it today.” 

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 2, 2012

Metamora Fares Well at Pitchford Invite

By Josh Herman

METAMORA – According to ihsa.org, Metamora’s enrollment is 935.  That is in stark contrast to most of the teams competing in the rain-shortened Tom Pitchford Invitational on Saturday.  The Redbirds finished 7th of 32 teams.

The meet, also known as mini-state, featured many of the top teams in Illinois, including eight of the top ten team finishers from last year’s state tournament.

Metamora’s enrollment was 772 students less than any other school that finished in the top 15 on Saturday, showing off what has become one of the perennial powers downstate — despite having less players to choose from than the typical powerhouses.

The winner of the tournament, and reigning state champion, Winnetka New Trier, has an enrollment of 4,167.  The average of the other 14 schools in the top 15 is 2,953.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 18, 2012

Redbird Winning Streak Halted

By Josh Herman

METAMORA – Metamora had won 20 consecutive Mid-Illini Conference boys tennis dual meets, a streak that was ended Tuesday evening with a 5-4 loss to Morton.

The previous time the Redbirds were defeated in conference was on May 6, 2008, when then-junior Brock Reiman helped lead the Potters to another 5-4 decision.

This time around it was two Reimans — sophomore twins Trent and Grant — along with the bottom half of Morton’s lineup that helped pace the win.

The Potters’ top three singles players each lost their matches, but juniors Taylor Nave and Jonah Laktas and freshman Chandler Stimpert recorded victories to tie the dual at 3-3 going into the doubles portion of the meet.

“I was really pleased with how the bottom part of the lineup really stepped up tonight,” Morton coach Joal Stanfield said.  “Winning those three singles matches was the only thing that kept us in the match.”

The Reiman brothers won one of the more anticipated matchups of the night when they defeated Metamora’s top doubles team of Quinn Vaughn and Christoph Goettler, who had already knocked off a few of the top duos in the state so far this season.

Minutes after the Reimans’ victory, Nave and fellow junior Calen Crim finished up their victory over Metamora’s Caleb Neumann and Tyler Ngo to clinch a bittersweet victory for Morton.

“Me and (Metamora coach) Kelly (Willard) like to say that this is the biggest match that doesn’t mean anything,” Stanfield said.  “With how the conference is weighted, it’s still up for grabs.” 

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 4, 2012

Redbird Schedule is Fierce

By Josh Herman

PEORIA – Metamora has already faced six of last year’s top 32 teams from the IHSA boys state tennis tournament.

The Redbirds, who finished tied for 15th in 2011, scheduled the tough early tournaments on purpose.

“We’ve got goals later on in the season, and to help achieve those goals later on, I really feel like you challenge them early and see what people are made of,” coach Kelly Willard said.  “And by the time those later things roll around, it doesn’t seem so bad.”

Metamora has defeated Highland Park (tie for sixth), Naperville Central (T25), Moline (T27) and Springfield (T27), and has lost to Downers Grove South (10th) and Barrington (20th).

Over the three-tournament stretch, the top doubles team of senior Quinn Vaughn and junior Christoph Goettler were 8-1, while 2011 Journal Star Player of the Year sophomore Will Koehrsen was 8-2.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

March 29, 2012

Metamora Tennis Talented, Deep

By Josh Herman

PEORIA – The Metamora boys tennis team has been on top of the area scene for the last five years, and 2012 doesn’t look like it will be any different.

The Redbirds return five of their top six from last year’s team that won its fifth consecutive Mid-Illini Conference and sectional titles.  All five players were state qualifiers in 2011.

“I thought two years ago, when we had all the seniors and Stephan Rauh playing one and David Stewart and Nate Wilson playing one doubles, I thought, ‘We can’t possibly be this good ever again,’ ” coach Kelly Willard said.

“And I don’t know if that’s true.  I’m not saying that we’re there yet, but man, we’ve got some kids playing really well right now.”

Sophomore Will Koehrsen, the 2011 Journal Star Player of the Year, will again lead the way at No. 1 singles.  Even after claiming the M-I singles title and Richwoods sectional title last season, Koehrsen has taken another step forward, Willard feels.

“Certainly Will Koehrsen is at a different level than last year, and I think everybody is going to see that during the season.  He was really good last year, but he’s really sharp right now,” he said.

Willard credits a strong work ethic and never-give-up attitude for Koehrsen’s success so early in his career.

“You know you’re not going to get very many like him,” he said.  “I tell you what, it doesn’t matter how long we go at practice.  (Monday) was a cold, windy, and disgusting day and it’s about 5 o’clock and we’ve been out there since 2:45, and he says, ‘How about we do one more thing?’  He just doesn’t want to stop.  Nobody likes to play him, because he will never stop trying.”

Joining Koehrsen will be the top doubles team of senior Quinn Vaughn and junior Christoph Goettler.  The two, both of whom played at state last season with different partners, already have seen some success in the young 2012 season.

In the team’s opener on March 17, Vaughn and Goettler knocked off Highland Park’s Zach Brint and Max Gordon to pace the Redbirds to a 3-2 team victory.

Brint finished 3rd at last year’s state tournament and was runner-up in 2010.  Highland Park finished sixth last year as a team.

“So far this year, Quinn Vaughn and Christoph Goettler have been just fabulous,” Willard said.  “They’re not perfect, and they certainly can play better, but they have been really fabulous.  We’ve played some excellent doubles teams so far and had good success.”

Rounding out the top six will be sophomores Mitchell Nguyen and Tyler Ngo and junior Caleb Neumann. 

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

March 29, 2012

Journal Star Boys Tennis Preview

By Josh Herman

1.  Metamora (6-0) – Five-time defending conference and sectional champion looks in prime shape to capture No. 6 in a row after losing just one player from last year’s team — senior Petr Vesely.  Sophomore Will Koehrsen, the 2011 Journal Star Player of the Year, will retain the No. 1 singles spot after an impressive debut to his high school career last year.  The other four returning members of the top six each qualified for state last year — Quinn Vaughn (sr.) and Christoph Goettler (jr.) will take the No. 1 doubles spot, and Mitchell Nguyen (so.) and Tyler Ngo (so.) will be No. 2.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

March 19, 2012

Metamora Tennis Kicks Off Spring in Style

By Josh Herman

METAMORANow that March Madness has left Peoria and the weather has warmed, it’s time to turn to some Spring sport action.  And what better way to start than with the five-time defending Mid-Illini conference champion Metamora boys tennis team who has already started making some noise on the courts.

The Redbirds, who return all but one member of their 2011 squad, opened the official high school tennis season on Saturday with three impressive victories during a quadrangular meet at The Clubs at River City.

They came out of the day with a 3-0 record after topping a few top-30 finishers at last year’s state tournament — Highland Park (tie for 6th), Moline (t27), and Springfield (t27) — each by a score of 3-2.

The match of the day for Metamora was at No. 1 doubles versus Highland Park.  Redbirds senior Quinn Vaughn and junior Christoph Goettler topped Zach Brint and Max Gordon, 6-3, 6-4.  Brint finished third at state in doubles last season and was the runner-up in 2010.

Vaughn and Goettler each finished 3-0 on the day.  Vaughn won at No. 2 singles against Moline and teamed with Tyler Ngo in a No. 2 doubles victory over Springfield.

Goettler and sophomore Mitchell Nguyen were victorious at No. 1 doubles versus both Moline and Springfield.  Nguyen also finished off a perfect day with a win at No. 2 singles over Highland Park.

Sophomore Will Koehrsen, the 2011 Journal Star Player of the Year, went 2-1 on the day with his only loss coming to Springfield’s Patrick Gaffigan, the No. 1 ranked player in the USTA Middle Illinois 18-and-under list.

Koehrsen didn’t drop a single game in his opening match for a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Moline sophomore and 2011 state qualifier Justin Rumley.  He then dropped the match to Gaffigan, 6-3, 6-2, before rebounding with a 6-0, 6-1 win against Highland Park senior Jason Melamed.

The Redbirds also had a nice showing at the Preseason Singles Tournament which was held on Feb. 26 at The Clubs at River City.  Koehrsen took the overall title, defeating solid players Nguyen, Decatur St. Teresa senior Patrick Kuhle (three-time state qualifier) and Richwoods junior Kevin Wang.

The top eight finishers were Koehrsen, Wang, Kuhle, Richwoods junior Chandler Clayton, Nguyen, Goettler, Vaughn, and Pekin junior Derek Rineberg.

For more on the upcoming season, check out the Journal Star for my tennis preview which is tentatively scheduled to run sometime next week.


The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

June 9, 2011

Lots of Good Will

By Josh Herman

METAMORAWill Koehrsen had quite the 2011 high school boys tennis season.

As a 14-year old freshman at Metamora, Koehrsen won conference and sectional titles, earned a top 32 seed at state and elevated his game above an exciting stable of young talent in the Peoria area to win the Journal Star Player of the Year award.

“We do have a lot of young talent and we know the conference and sectionals are going to be really tough,” Koehrsen said of the area’s tennis future.  “It’s kind of cool though to have bragging rights among the guys, ’cause we’re all friends.”

Metamora coach Kelly Willard praised Koehrsen’s drive and work ethic.

“It’ll be hard to find a kid that’s worked any harder for some individual accolades than he has,” Willard said.  “And trust me, I’m not saying that he’s in it for the individual accolades, I’m just saying that the kid just worked every second in practice this year from the start to the end.”

The beginning of the season couldn’t have been easy, as the Redbirds had graduated what Willard called “the best singles player that we’ve ever had in our school’s history,” Stephan Rauh.  Koehrsen responded without a blink, however, as he helped pace Metamora to a 22-1 regular-season dual record and a 15th-place finish at the state finals.

At state, he won four consecutive matches after dropping his first to Springfield’s Patrick Gaffigan, whom he defeated earlier in the season for the singles title at the Bloomington Invitational.

“I was unlucky to lose my first one, but winning four in a row was great,” Koehrsen said.  “It’s a great tournament with a lot of great players, so I’m glad to do as well as I did.”

Classic Counter Puncher

Will Koehrsen’s style of play is much different than most players in the area, as he’s neither the quickest nor the most powerful player around.  His ability to make shots and to keep his opponents on their toes is the main reason he has had such success while not being able to overpower anyone.

“I don’t attack that much,” Koehrsen said.  “I like to stand at the baseline and counterpunch.”

His experience against older competition has helped refine that style.

“Usually being the younger kid, I could never overpower my opponents, so I always had to get all the balls back and kind of annoy them.  I also like to slice the ball a lot to change up the pace.”

He Said It

Metamora tennis coach Kelly Willard:  “His anticipation skills, even as a young kid, have always been phenomenal.  Some kids react to the shot, but I think Will reacts to the moment before the shot.  He just seems to be moving a split-second faster.  He’s not necessarily the faster kid on the court by any means, but he gets to his spot better than anyone else.”

All in the Family

While this is Will Koehrsen’s first Journal Star POY award, it’s the fourth for the Koehrsen family.  Will’s sister, Taylor, who just graduated from Metamora, won the girls POY three times, in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

“It motivates me to try and pass her, because there’s kind of a rivalry between us,” Will said.  “I want to aim for what she did and then try to do even better.  She’s a great player and has some great accomplishments.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 22, 2011

In With the Old, and New

By Josh Herman

PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team came into the Richwoods Sectional with four consecutive titles but a roster full of postseason inexperience.

Six new players created the same old result as the Redbirds claimed another sectional final Saturday.

“The thing that I’m proud about with these guys is that we’ve got six guys playing in this sectional that weren’t in this sectional last year,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “They’re wearing the same shirts and they’re on the same team and everything, but they haven’t done this before.  It’s a big accomplishment for them.”

Metamora freshman Will Koehrsen took the overall singles title with a bittersweet victory over top-seeded Richwoods sophomore Chandler Clayton.  Koehrsen won a competitive first set 6-4, but after going up 3-0 in the second, Clayton began feeling tightness in his left hamstring and called for an injury break.

Clayton returned after getting stretched, but only a few minutes later he fell while going for a return and opted to retire.

“It started to tighten up there, so I took a little break,” Clayton said about his hamstring.  “And then it just full out cramped.”

Koehrsen’s first loss of the season came to Clayton in their only regular-season meeting, on April 28, but this time he deployed a different strategy.

“He’s a great player and we had a great match last time,” Koehrsen said.  “This time I just wanted to try to get into the net and be more aggressive and finish off the points quickly.”

In the doubles competition, both Metamora duos met in the championship after taking care of their semi-final matches with barely a scratch.  Top-seeded junior Quinn Vaughn and freshman Mitchell Nguyen defeated No. 2 sophomore Christoph Goettler and freshman Tyler Ngo 6-4, 7-5 to take the overall doubles title.

“It was neat,” Willard said about the match-up.  “I told the guys that we just want to have a clean match and we want it to be competitive and we want it to have energy and whoever wins, wins.”

“I can promise you that Goettler and Ngo had zero desire to get beat in that match.  Even though they’re supposedly our 2 team, they competed as hard as they could the whole way through.”

Richwoods sophomore Kevin Wang finished in third place in singles with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Metamora senior Petr Vesely.

In the third-place doubles match, Notre Dame’s Dominick Leali and Drew Whalen defeated East Peoria’s Ross Johnson and Aaron Kurth 6-0, 6-3.  

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 17, 2011

More First-Place Finishes for Metamora

By Travis David

PEORIA — It was business as usual for the Metamora boys tennis team.

The Redbirds captured their fifth consecutive Mid-Illini Conference overall and tournament titles Monday at David Markin courts.  Metamora won the M-I meet, 26-22 over second-place Morton.

Action on Monday was in continuance from Friday, when play was suspended because of rain.  Waiting was stressful on Metamora coach Kelly Willard, but his players didn’t seem to mind.

“I didn’t sleep much last night, I can promise you that,” Willard said.  “But the kids showed up today with a lot of confidence.  Nobody on this team was scared to play.”

Having won the M-I the previous four seasons, it can be argued no one on the Redbirds should feel scared.  But the six members on this year’s team are newbies.

“You may say, ‘Well, you have won so many titles in a row,’ but these guys haven’t been in this situation before,” he said.  “For them to win it like this is very satisfying.  This means more.”

Willard also lauded the runner-up.

“Morton is such a phenomenal team,” he said.  “There is no team that we have faced this season between Chicago and St. Louis that is as good as they are.”

But then there was a pause, and he finished.

“Well, I guess we are not too bad as well,” Willard said.

At No. 1 singles, it was a battle of freshmen vying for the title, with Metamora’s Will Koehrsen beating Morton’s Grant Reiman.  Koehrsen started the day ahead 5-2 from Friday’s suspended match.  Reiman closed to 5-4 in the first set before Koehrsen broke serve to win 6-4.  He made less work in the second set as he won 6-1.

“I got a little nervous when it was 5-4, but I got warmed up a bit and started to get more into the match,” Koehrsen said.  “It feels really great to be conference champ, and I am happy for my team as well.  This is an awesome day.”

Trent Reiman of Morton was the top-seeded player at No. 2 singles, but Petr Vesely of Metamora carried the momentum from a marathon semi-final to breeze through, 6-1, 6-2.

“I am so proud of Petr,” Willard said.  “He hasn’t really had his shining moment, and for him to have it today to help us win the team title, I am just so happy for him.”

Quinn Vaughn and Mitchell Nguyen picked up the final first for the Redbirds with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Wes Crandall and Calen Crim of Morton at No. 1 doubles.

The Morton duo of Taylor Nave and Jonah Laktas won No. 2 doubles 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 over Christoph Goettler and Tyler Ngo of Metamora.

Pekin was third in the tournament with 12 points.  Metamora, Morton, and Pekin also were the top three in the M-I overall final standings, which accounts for regular-season dual meets and the league tourney finish.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 23, 2011

Metamora Boys Tennis Continues Hot Streak

By Josh Herman

PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team has had quite the week.

Their dual against Morton on Tuesday was canceled due to inclement weather, moving the crucial conference match back to Thursday, two days before the Redbirds would have to take on Notre Dame and Normal U-High in a triangular meet.

The pressure didn’t reach the young and inexperienced team as they swept all three meets, losing only four individual matches over the three days.

Their biggest struggle came on Thursday from a resurgent Morton team that was hungry to dethrone the four-time reigning Mid-Illini conference champion Redbirds.  To no avail, the Potters were put down 6-2, despite a valiant effort.

Phenom freshman Will Koehrsen, who came into the meet with a 15-0 singles record so far this season, was pushed hard by fellow frosh Grant Reiman before claiming a 7-5, 6-3 victory to continue his perfect record on the year.

The Potters’ only two victories included Grant’s twin brother, Trent Reiman.  In singles, Trent had a hard-fought first set with Metamora senior Petr Vesely, before putting him away in a tiebreaker, 7-6(8).  The second set started off much the same as the first, but late mistakes by Vesely gave Reiman the set, 6-1, and the match victory.

In doubles, the Reiman brothers teamed up to knock off Quinn Vaughn and Mitchell Nguyen, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.

The deciding match was no slouch, either.

Down 4-1, Morton needed a win from junior Wes Crandall to keep its meet hopes alive.  Crandall was able to battle freshman Tyler Ngo, but Ngo was too much in a 7-6, 7-6 victory to clinch the meet for the Redbirds.

The win puts Metamora in the driver’s seat for its fifth straight M-I title, putting them at 4-0 in the conference with only meetings with Washington and Limestone remaining.

Equally impressive was the Redbirds 7-2 victory over Normal U-High on Saturday.

The Pioneers have a formidable young squad, headlined by freshmen Sam Totten, Dylan Koth, and Alexander Su, but they were no match for equally youthful Metamora, winning only four sets all day.

Koehrsen, currently ranked fourth in the USTA Middle Illinois Boys 14 rankings, continued his undefeated season by beating Totten, ranked seventh in the same rankings, 6-0, 6-2.

The Redbirds will look to continue their hot streak Monday when they take on a solid Richwoods team at 3:30 p.m.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 6, 2011

Redbirds Finish High

By Josh Herman

PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team finished fifth out of 32 teams at the Edwardsville Tiger Invitational on Saturday, finishing the tournament with a 4-1 record as a team.

Freshman Will Koehrsen, playing No. 1 singles, finished the day with a perfect 5-0 record, including a 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 victory over Patrick Spain of Alton.  Spain made it to the sixth round of the consolation bracket in doubles at the 2010 state tournament.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 6, 2011


By Josh Herman

PEORIA — The combined record for the Metamora boys tennis team over its last 13 conference dual meets after defeating Dunlap 9-0 on Tuesday evening.

The Redbirds had a slight scare when coach Kelly Willard dug deep into his roster for their final doubles match, sending seniors David Schrader and Jason Rainville to face Conner Garrison and Evan Fasnacht for the Eagles.

Dunlap took the first set 6-3 and took Metamora to a tie-breaker in the second, but a 6-4 third set sealed the deal for the Redbirds.

“We’ve had a lot of kids taking pride in keeping the streak alive,” Willard said.  “I know those guys were out there saying ‘we won’t be the ones to end it.'” 

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 5, 2011

Journal Star Boys Tennis Preview

By Josh Herman

2.  METAMORA (6-0) — Redbirds will have quite the challenge this season while trying to capture fifth straight conference title.  They have to deal with departure of all six state qualifiers from last season’s team that finished tenth in state, including 2010 JS Player of the Year Stephan Rauh.  Freshmen Will Koehrsen, Mitchell Nguyen and Tyler Ngo will start in Nos. 1, 5 and 6 spots, respectively.  Foreign exchange student Petr Vesely (sr.) will take No. 2 spot with Quinn Vaughn (jr.) and Christoph Goettler (so.) rounding out their top six.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 5, 2011

Youth is Served in Mid-Illini Tennis

By Josh Herman

PEORIA — In high school sports, it’s often a special situation when an underclassman is asked to make an immediate impact for his or her team.

The 2011 boys tennis season will be full of such situations as a youth movement has swept through the Journal Star area, with 23 seniors being lost from Mid-Illini Conference teams from a year ago.

“The last few years have been dominated by Brock Reiman and Stephan Rauh, so it will be exciting to see who is at the top this year,” Dunlap coach John Allison said.  “Our conference has a number of good, young players who could dominate for the next couple of years.”

Sparking the movement is the arrival of the last of the Reimans for Morton and seven-year coach Joal Stanfield.  Twins Trent and Grant will look to follow in the footsteps of their brothers Brock and Ty in becoming state qualifiers for the Potters.

Grant will start the season in the No. 1 singles spot, while Trent will be the No. 4.  The duo will also join forces as Morton’s No. 1 doubles team.

Metamora, the winner of the past four conference titles, will rely heavily on a trio of freshmen in Will Koehrsen (No. 1), Mitchell Nguyen (No. 5), and Tyler Ngo (No. 6), as well as sophomore Christoph Goettler (No. 4).

“The amount of high school tennis experience on this year’s team is very small,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “However, we will still put a very good product on the courts this year as the returnees have worked hard and will be joined by some terrific newcomers.”

Washington and Pekin will both feature a sophomore in their top spot.

Bryan Kinas will take the reins as the No. 1 for the Panthers for the second consecutive year.

For the Dragons, Derek Rineberg, one of only three returning state qualifiers in the Mid-Illini, will look to continue his team’s success from 2010, but will have to deal with the departure of eight seniors.

“Derek’s goal is to go deep into this year’s state tournament,” coach Bill Toel said.  “But it will require an immense amount of work and good fortune to make it through the tough Bloomington Sectional and beyond to the Chicago suburbs.”

The most experienced team in the conference is Dunlap, featuring a top six full of upperclassmen.  However, three of the top four for the Eagles have no previous varsity experience under their belts.

“We have five returning players with some varsity experience,” Allison said.  “Hopefully that will be an advantage that we can utilize against the younger teams.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

June 14, 2010

Game . . . Set . . . No Match


Rauh had no area equals while sparking Metamora’s success

By Josh Wessler

METAMORA — From the time he took the court as an undersized freshman, until his top-16 finish this season at the state tennis finals, Stephan Rauh accomplished quite a bit during his four years at Metamora High School.

Coinciding with his unprecedented run of success, the outgoing senior virtually rewrote the tennis program’s record book while donning the red and black of Metamora.

But if you ask the 2010 Journal Star Player of the Year what stands out most from his time with the Redbirds, you won’t hear any mention of his program-record 111 career singles victories, his Mid-Illini Conference singles title or his victory at the Richwoods Sectional.

Instead, Rauh’s preferred memory of choice comes from a time when he was just a small blip on the local tennis scene.

“There have been lots of memories this year that have kind of worked to bring conclusion to all four years,” said Rauh, whose play at the top of the Redbirds’ line-up this spring helped them claim a fourth-straight M-I title, a fourth-straight sectional title and a top-10 finish at the state tournament.

“But I think one of the best memories was back in my freshman year when we came into the conference tournament being down to Morton and then winning that tournament and thereby winning the conference.  That was really cool and something that will stick with me for a long time.”

And that’s how it is for the player who Metamora coach Kelly Willard described as the consumate teammate.

“There’s so many examples of where he’s cared about everybody else or the team and not his own match, necessarily,” Willard said.  “He’ll be in the middle of a dogfight with somebody, and he’ll come over to the fence on a changeover and ask me how the kid playing No. 5 is doing.  He knows he’s going to take care of his own business, but he’s always been so into the team thing and he would much rather have team success than individual success.”

“And for a kid that good to care that much about the team is awesome.”

Hard-working and humble, Rauh approaches life much like he does the sport he’s been playing since he was a young kid.  Selected to the IHSA all-state academic team, the modest Rauh also is class valedictorian.  Rauh will take his game to Wheaton College next fall, where he plans on studying pre-med.

“God has been gracious and given me a certain skill set and I try to do my best to glorify Him through the work that I do,” said Rauh, who also finished second at the Class 2A state cross country meet in November.

“I try to do my best in everything that I do and do it for the glory of God.  I do my best in sports, in the classroom. . . . I try to do what I can in all areas of life.”

And while that outlook and dedication to giving his all seems to come naturally for Rauh, it often leaves those who spend time with him striving to take that same approach.

“I think the thing about Stephan that’s so remarkable, and I told him this at our team banquet, I said ‘Stephan, you’ve coached me as much as I’ve coached you’,” Willard said.  “And I don’t exactly know what I meant by that.  But by the way he’s acted, by the way he’s handled himself, the way he’s worked every second of every practice as hard as he could without being asked, the sticking around late to do extra stuff with the younger guys, is everything that he’s about just makes the kids around him, and me, for that matter, want to do a better job.  And that’s probably the best thing that I can say about the kid.”

“He’s one of a kind, that’s for darn sure.”

And so it was only fitting that Rauh’s tenure as the Metamora ace culminated in the Redbirds earning the program’s best team result ever with a top-10 placement at the state finals in May.

Rauh, who went 39-5 in singles this season against a slate of opponents comprised mainly of state qualifiers, went 4-2 in the northwest suburbs of Chicago in his fourth and final trip to the state finals to help the Redbirds earn their spot amongst the state’s best.

“That was a lot of fun,” Rauh said.  “Everybody played well.  It just seemed like it all came together.  It was a goal that we had, and to work at it all season and to be able to get it was really neat.”

“I’ve been really blessed to be on the team that I have been.  Just lots of great friendships with the guys on the team.  And coach Willard has been just awesome and really encouraging to me.  I couldn’t ask for a better team and coach and high school tennis experience in general.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 30, 2010

Metamora Finishes 10th in Team Standings 

By Josh Wessler

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — Metamora finished in a tie for 10th place in the boys tennis state finals.

Metamora tied with Naperville North and St. Charles North (16 points) in the final team standings Saturday.  Winnetka New Trier finished first by a point, 43-42, over Hinsdale Central, which had won the previous three titles.

Metamora’s finish is the best by a Journal Star-area team since Galesburg was 10th in 2006.

Metamora singles player Stephan Rauh and the doubles tandem of David Stewart and Nate Wilson began the finals with three consecutive victories.  Each also won one consolation-bracket match.

New Trier was led by Robert Stineman, who won the singles championship.  He beat Tim Kopinski of Palos Hills Stagg, 6-1, 7-6(5) in the title match.  The doubles championship went to Dan Ballantine and Ian Tesmond of Hinsdale Central, who beat David Zak and Zach Brint of Highland Park, 6-4, 6-4 in the final. 

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 29, 2010

Tough Second Day for Metamora Trio 

By Josh Wessler

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — David Stewart and Nate Wilson weren’t about to go down without a fight.

With their prep tennis careers approaching their inevitable conclusions, the Metamora seniors took to the courts Friday morning as one of 16 unbeaten teams still alive in the doubles main draw at the IHSA boys state tennis tournament.

Facing the state’s second-ranked doubles tandem in Hinsdale Central’s Sam Bloom and Krishna Ravella at Mount Prospect, Stewart and Wilson gave the Red Devils all they wanted before falling one match short of the state quarterfinals.  After taking the first set, the Metamora duo came within two games of victory before the Hinsdale Central pair pulled out a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1 victory.

The Redbirds rebounded to beat Oak Park-River Forest’s Eric Bruynseels and Tim McAdam in consolation play; a 7-6(4), 6-4 loss to John Mittvick and David Johnson of St. Charles North ended the duo’s run.

Placed in a similar situation after going 3-0 on Thursday, Metamora senior Stephan Rauh began the day facing second-seeded Ben Hoogland of Glenview Glenbrook South at Arlington Heights Hersey.

A 6-2, 6-1 loss sent Rauh to the backdraw, where he defeated Skokie Niles North’s Dave Bacalla 6-3, 7-6(0) before being eliminated by Winnetka New Trier’s Brantner Jones, 6-2, 6-4, in the bracket’s seventh round.

WRAP UP:  Richwoods’ Colin and Chandler Clayton were eliminated from the doubles backdraw with a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Springfield’s Grant Robinson and Ben Trapp . . . With 16 team points, Metamora is currently in a four-way tie for ninth with Belleville West, Naperville North, and St. Charles North.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 28, 2010

Metamora Comes Up Aces on State’s Day 1 

By Josh Wessler

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — Of the 137 schools competing at this weekend’s IHSA boys state tennis tournament, Metamora ranks 108th in terms of student enrollment.

But after a strong effort on Day 1 of the three-day competition in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, the Redbirds find themselves standing tall amongst some of the state’s elite.

Led by a pair of 3-0 days by Stephan Rauh in singles and David Stewart and Nate Wilson in doubles, Metamora ended Thursday’s action tied with Lincolnshire Stevenson for seventh in the team standings.

Additional victories from Kevin Wang and the doubles tandem of Ryan Donnelly and Greg Coffman gave the Redbirds 14 team points, just eight points behind co-leaders Hinsdale Central and Winnetka New Trier.

“All I’ve been doing tonight is staring at the list of the top-10 teams,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “And to see little ol’ Metamora up there with the big boys is a little absurd.  We know that tomorrow some of those teams are going to add some points, so we’re going to go enjoy this.”

“But everybody played really well today.  Stephan had a great day.  David and Nate had kind of a lousy start, but once the competition got severe they played about as well as I’ve ever seen them.”

Things figure to get a little tougher for the Redbirds on Friday, as both Rauh and Stewart/Wilson are slated to go up against quality opponents.

Rauh, who lost just seven games in three victories, will face No. 2 seed Ben Hoogland of Glenview Glenbrook South at Arlington Heights Hersey.

Rauh won 6-2, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-0, then capped off the day with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Danny Park of Rockford Guilford.

Similarly, Stewart and Wilson will go up against Hinsdale Central’s second-seeded duo of Sam Bloom and Krishna Ravella at Mount Prospect.

Richwoods’ Colin and Chandler Clayton are still alive in the doubles consolation bracket.  The brothers went 3-0 after losing to 9-16 seed Reid Mutschler and Elliot Giraud of Naperville North in their opener.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 27, 2010

Filling Seniors’ Shoes No Small Feat 

By Josh Wessler

PEORIA — Three years ago, a group of seven wide-eyed freshmen from the Journal Star area made their first trip to the IHSA boys state tennis finals in the suburbs of Chicago.

This weekend, as five of those former newbies take to the courts for the last time in their prep careers, a new group of talented freshmen will be finding out what state tennis is all about.

Starting Thursday morning at 10:00 at various sites throughout the northwest suburbs of Chicago, freshmen Derek Rineberg (Pekin), Taylor Nave (Morton), Kevin Wang (Metamora), and Chandler Clayton (Richwoods) will get their feet wet against the best players this state has to offer.

The experience gained this weekend will likely prepare these freshmen for next spring, when they will be looked to fill the shoes of this year’s departing seniors in what amounts to a changing of the guard in the area.

With the track record of this year’s seniors, filling those shoes won’t be an easy feat to accomplish.

With three state appearances under their belts heading into Thursday’s opening rounds, Stephan Rauh (Metamora), David Stewart (Metamora), and Scott Caughey (Notre Dame) have led the way for a senior group that has racked up a conbined 24 state appearances.

Ryan Donnelly (Metamora) and Nate Wilson (Metamora) will each be making their third trip to the state finals, while classmates Colin Clayton (Richwoods), Branden Brill (Pekin), and Greg Coffman (Metamora) are heading north for the second time.

The group’s two dozen state entries could have been larger had it included Peter Heidrich (Notre Dame) and Nick Skender (Dunlap), who did not play this year for various reasons.  Those two, along with Donnelly, Rauh, Wilson, Stewart, and Caughey, all qualified as freshmen in 2007.

TOUGH BREAK:  For the most part, the JS-area competitors made out fairly well in their opening-round draws.

But for a few local players, the luck of the draw wasn’t on their side during Tuesday’s pairing session.

Wang, who finished second to Rauh at the Richwoods Sectional, will face Hinsdale Central sophomore Rafe Mosetick, a 9-16 seed, at Rolling Meadows.  Mosetick finished second at the Hinsdale Central Sectional, losing to teammate Augie Bloom in three sets in the final.  Bloom, a senior, finished fifth at last year’s tournament as the Red Devils claimed their third straight state title.

The Clayton brothers, who finished third in the Richwoods Sectional, will take on Naperville North’s Reid Mutschler and Elliot Giraud at Palatine.  The senior Huskies won the Naperville North Sectional to earn a 9-16 seed.

A LOOK BACK:  Since 2000, 12 JS-area teams have sent players to the state tournament.

Metamora leads the area with a total of 46 singles and doubles players (12 singles, 17 doubles) sent.  Morton is second with 39 (11s, 14d), with Dunlap (36; 4s, 16d) and Richwoods (35; 9s, 13d) comprising the top four.

Pekin is next with 16 (6s, 5d), followed by Notre Dame (14; 12s, 1d), Woodruff (6; 4s, 1d), and Macomb (4; 2s, 1d).

Limestone and Washington have each qualified two singles players for state, while East Peoria’s Ben Morrow and Dewey Kim gave the Raiders a doubles entry in 2007.

Even Stark County managed to get in on the fun, when Jon Borden took third in singles at the Galesburg Sectional in 2000.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 23, 2010

Metamora Completes Mastery 

By Josh Wessler

PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team added a few more pieces of hardware to its ever-growing collection Saturday at the Richwoods Sectional.

Led by Stephan Rauh’s winning effort in singles and David Stewart and Nate Wilson’s championship run in doubles, the Redbirds claimed their fourth consecutive sectional title in what has become typical Metamora fashion.

Going 13-3 on the weekend, Metamora amassed 34 of a possible 36 team points while qualifying six players for next week’s state finals in the Chicago suburbs.

Pekin took second, with 18 points.  Richwoods (15), Notre Dame (11), and Dunlap (10) rounded out the top five.

“I was proud of all the guys today.  They played as well as they can,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “The titles won are great and the sectional and conference titles are wonderful, but when it all comes down to it, you’re making memories out here.  And we got some.”

Fresh off his first Mid-Illini Conference singles championship last weekend, Metamora senior Stephan Rauh won his first sectional singles title.  He beat freshman teammate Kevin Wang 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

Rauh’s victory made him the first Metamora player to win a sectional singles title since Nate Rauh, Stephan’s brother, won the division in 2005.

“It’s neat to share that with Nate,” Rauh said.  “I’m just really glad that our team could get another sectional win.  It’s been fun.”

Wang, who drew praise from Willard for his 6-3, 7-5 victory over Notre Dame senior Scott Caughey in the semifinals, was the only player to win a game off of Rauh all weekend.

“I was trying to hold him to zero,” Rauh said.  “But he got a couple, and that’s great.”

An unexpected early wake-up call helped Stewart and Wilson avoid a day’s worth of frustration in doubles.

Having breezed through their first two matches, the M-I doubles champs were down a set in their semifinal against Richwoods’ Colin Clayton and Chandler Clayton.  But the Metamora seniors awoke in time to pull out a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory to reach the final.

“We just came out really flat.  No energy at all,” Wilson said.  “But as soon as we lost that first set, we were like, ‘All right, we’d better go.  We want to win this.’ ”

Stewart and Wilson completed their run with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Pekin’s Branden Brill and Erik Smith.  Tied 2-2 in the first set, the Redbirds broke serve and never looked back.

“We figured that once we got the break we’d be fine,” Wilson said.  “It’s tough to break us when we’re serving well.”

Caughey had to rally late to win 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) over Pekin’s Derek Rineberg in the third-place match.

The Clayton brothers took third in doubles by beating Metamora’s Ryan Donnelly and Greg Coffman, 6-4, 6-3. 

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 22, 2010

Metamora Secures Title at Richwoods 

By Josh Wessler

PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team didn’t waste time securing its fourth sectional title in a row Friday.

Going 8-0 in opening round play at the Richwoods Sectional, the Redbirds racked up enough team points (24) to assure themselves of the title, with two rounds of play remaining.  Pekin sits in second place, with 16 points, followed by Richwoods (14), Notre Dame (10), and Dunlap (10).

Play resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday at Richwoods.

Stephan Rauh held his No. 1 seed in singles.  He swept through his first two opponents without dropping a game.

The Metamora senior will face Pekin freshman Derek Rineberg, who ousted Notre Dame’s Dominick Leali Friday in the quarterfinals.  ND senior Scott Caughey will face Metamora freshman Kevin Wang in the other semifinal.

In doubles, Metamora’s top-seeded duo of David Stewart and Nate Wilson will face Richwoods’ Chandler Clayton and Colin Clayton in one semi.  Ryan Donnelly and Greg Coffman of Metamora will face Pekin’s Branden Brill and Erik Smith in the other.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 21, 2010

Sectional Shuffle Not Kind to Area 

By Josh Wessler

PEORIA — Sectional tennis means different things to different people.

For some, the focus is on the team and doing what they can to help its cause.  For others, winning a division title is priority No. 1 and everything else is secondary.

But for the majority of competitors, the task at hand is to survive Day 1 and secure a spot in the IHSA boys state tournament.

And for the last ten years, several area players have been able to realize their goals.

Since 2000, teams from the Mid-Illini and Mid-State 6 conferences have routinely qualified at least a dozen combined singles players and doubles teams for the state tournament.

After qualifying a combined 13 entrants in 2000, the two leagues have sent a collective 121 to the three-day tournament held in the nothwest suburbs of Chicago.

But due to a change in the sectional team assignments, the M-I and M-S 6 could be looking at one of the lowest qualifying totals in years.

While the Peoria-area sectional usually guarantees at least eight total qualifiers from the two leagues, Metamora’s participation in this year’s Richwoods Sectional after three years of competing at the Ottawa Sectional will likely put a dent in the number of M-I and M-S 6 qualifiers as it lumps the two leagues into just two sectionals.

“It’s too bad, because it means fewer Peoria kids as a whole are going to qualify,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “Whether it’s our guys or their guys, or whoever it is.”

“We weren’t necessarily real enthused about it and I don’t think some people in Peoria were also very enthused about it.  But it is what it is.”

The most that the two leagues have sent was 15 in 2008, when Metamora, Morton and Richwoods all won sectional team titles.  The lowest total qualifiers during that stretch was 11, in 2002 and 2005.

Morton, which has won six straight team titles at the Bloomington Sectional, has been a major contributor to the M-I totals with 10 singles and 14 doubles qualifiers since 2000.

But a rebuilding year for the Potters and a lack of seeded players from fellow M-I competitors East Peoria and Washington could result in the smallest contingent of Peoria-area players heading to state in more than a decade.

Depending on how you look at it, though, Metamora’s return to the Richwoods Sectional isn’t all bad.

For Metamora senior Stephan Rauh, who holds the No. 1 seed in the singles draw, the chance to compete for a sectional title in front of a familiar crowd could be special.

Especially given the fact that Stephan’s older brother, Nate, won the singles title at the Metamora Sectional in 2005.

“It’ll be nice to be back around the area and playing the guys that we’re familiar with,” said Rauh, who won his first M-I singles title last Friday at the league tournament.

“I’d like to think that we’re set up to do pretty well.  It’ll be fun.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 15, 2010

Metamora Cashes Plenty of M-I Checks 

By Josh Wessler

EAST PEORIA — The Metamora boys tennis team cashed in on four years of hard work.

Led by a strong effort from their senior class, the Redbirds put their final touches on a dominant Mid-Illini Conference season by winning all four divisions at the league tournament Friday at Illinois Central College.  They won their fourth consecutive M-I title.

“This never gets old,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “Our guys played as well as they can today.”

“We had five seniors playing today, and they have put in a lot of time and a lot of effort.  And today was payday.”

Heading into the day with a one-point lead over Pekin thanks to a 6-0 run through the M-I dual season, Metamora wasted little time in securing its sixth league crown.

Metamora’s success during the M-I season also paid off in the form of No. 1 seeds in all four divisions.  Taking advantage of the first-round bye awarded to top seeds, the Redbirds advanced into the finals of all four divisions behind swift semifinal victories.

Stephan Rauh was the first to lock up a division title.  He beat Pekin’s Derek Rineberg 6-0, 6-0 in the final to win his first No. 1 singles title in three attempts.

“Stephan’s paid the price by playing Brock (Reiman) for three years,” Willard said in reference to the former Morton ace who won the division four years in a row from 2006-2009.

“That’s a tall mountain to climb,” Willard said.  “He earned the right to have one that went his way.”

For Rauh, the individual accomplishment is just a part of what has been a highly successful run for he and his senior teammates.

“Every year has been fun,” Rauh said.  “It’s a great way to finish it off . . . a great conclusion to a fun four years.”

Just after Rauh finished off Rineberg, fellow seniors Nate Wilson and David Stewart put the final touches on their title defense at No. 1 doubles with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Pekin’s Branden Brill and Erik Smith.

“This was probably some of the best doubles that Nate and I played all year,” Stewart said.  “Everything clicked in that match.  It felt good.”

After freshman Kevin Wang beat Dunlap’s Neil Brown 6-0, 6-1 to win No. 2 singles, seniors Ryan Donnelly and Greg Coffman made it a Metamora sweep with a 6-0, 7-5 victory over Pekin’s Neil Mulvey and Blake Butler at No. 2 doubles.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 12, 2010

Remarkable Run for Redbirds Tennis 

By Josh Wessler

METAMORAPerfection is not easily attained, especially in the world of sports.

But with Tuesday’s victory over Morton, the Metamora boys tennis team came about as close to regular season perfection as any team has in recent Mid-Illini Conference history.

By defeating the host Potters 9-0, the Redbirds wrapped up their second straight 6-0 run through the M-I regular season.

And while other M-I teams have achieved the same level of regular season success (Morton in 2007 and 2000, and Dunlap in 1999 being the most recent), this year’s Metamora squad raised the bar completely by winning all six matches by a score of 9-0.  In those six duals, the Redbirds lost just four sets out of 112.

But as the three-time defending league champs know, none of that will mean anything if they don’t finish the job on Friday at the M-I tournament.

“Our guys know what the regular season is for,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “But as most of these seniors know and have shown, you still have to win your matches at the tournament to win the league.”

And despite their dominant run through the league and their one-point lead over second-place Pekin, the Redbirds know that anything can happen in a tournament that awards the first-place finisher 10.5 points, which are then combined with points from league victories to determine the conference champion.

And for motivation, the Redbirds only need to look back to 2007, when they entered tourney play trailing unbeaten Morton by one point before winning the tournament to edge out the Potters for the league title.

“I can go either way on it,” Willard said about the weighted tournament system.  “It’s helped us a few times and it’s hurt us a few times.  It is what it is, so you just have to go out and try to win your matches.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 21, 2010

Full Nest 

By Josh Wessler

METAMORAFor the most part, high school tennis matches don’t exactly lend themselves to homecoming-style celebrations.  But on Tuesday, the Metamora boys tennis team turned convention on its head.

Kicking off a string of five consecutive home dual matches, the Redbirds held their first ever ‘Pack-the-Place’ event while hosting Mid-Illini Conference foe East Peoria.

And while the Redbirds enjoyed success on the courts, defeating the Raiders 9-0 for their 10th consecutive M-I dual meet victory, the event in the stands appeared to be a success as well.

Without a ticket gate to track the official attendance, Metamora coach Kelly Willard had to give his best guess as to how many people took in the action.  But Willard had some idea thanks to an anonymous booster, who donated 150 Metamora tennis T-shirts to the cause.

“We’ve only got a few shirts left,” Willard said.  “And there were a lot of students out here earlier.  So it was probably around 300 or so throughout the day, which is pretty good for a high school tennis match.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 14, 2010

Rollin’ Redbird 

By Josh Wessler

METAMORAThere doesn’t seem to be any cases of senioritis among the Metamora boys tennis team this spring.

At 10-1 with a trio of top-three tournament finishes and a handful of individual titles to their credit, the senior members of the Redbirds squad seemed to have picked up right where they left off a year ago when they took home both the Mid-Illini Conference and Ottawa Sectional titles for the third season in a row.

But one Redbirds player in particular has been nearly unbeatable on the court in his final go-round at the prep level.

Stephan Rauh, who holds the program record for career singles victories, ran his season singles record to 16-0 on Saturday with a title-winning effort at the Bloomington Purple & Gold Invite.

His 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over Tinley Park Andrew’s Jacob Tanulanond in the No. 1 singles final gave the senior 88 career victories and a second individual tournament title this season.  With 10 victories over 2009 state qualifiers already in the bag, Rauh has been making a serious case for seeding considerations at next month’s state tournament.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 5, 2010

Mid-Illini Preview 

By Josh Wessler

1.  METAMORA (6-0) — With nearly every player back from last year’s team, the Redbirds should have few problems in their bid for a fourth-straight M-I championship.  Senior Stephan Rauh is considered to be the league’s top player, while David Stewart and Nate Wilson form what is perhaps the area’s top doubles tandem.  Ryan Donnelly (sr.) and Kevin Wang (fr.) add to the Redbirds’ talent level and depth.


The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 30, 2009

Top-Seeded Team Beats Metamorans 

By Josh Wessler

ARLINGTON HEIGHTSDavid Stewart and Stephan Rauh finally met their match Friday at the boys tennis state finals.

After pulling out an improbable come-from-behind victory Thursday to reach the Round of 16, the Metamora doubles team was eliminated from the championship bracket by Hinsdale Central’s top-seeded duo of Dan Ballantine and Ian Tesmond, 6-4, 6-0 at Mount Prospect in the fourth round of the championship bracket.

Stewart and Rauh rebounded to win their next match but were eliminated by Oak Park-River Forest’s Andy Samuels and Seth Sankary, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the seventh round of the consolation bracket.

Stewart and Rauh finished with a 4-2 record at state to earn a 13-16 finish and second-team all-state honors.  They came into Friday with a 9-0 record on the season.

“We were able to hold seed, which is what we wanted to do coming up here,” Stewart said.  “It was definitely a fun experience.”

The two Redbirds were able to stick with Ballantine and Tesmond in the early stages of the match as both sides held serve through the first six games.

But Ballantine and Tesmond took control in the seventh game by scoring a key break to go ahead 4-3 on the way to taking the set and, eventually, the match.

“We kind of gave them a run in that first set,” Stewart said.  “But once they got ahead, they took over.  It was pretty nuts.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 29, 2009

Metamora Tennis Duo Into Round of 16 

By Josh Wessler

ARLINGTON HEIGHTSA key break brought David Stewart and Stephan Rauh back from the brink Thursday at the boys state tennis tournament.

Down a set, and one game from being sent to the consolation bracket, the Metamora doubles team rallied to advance to the division’s Round of 16 at the three-day tournament in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

The Redbirds duo became the first Journal Star-area doubles team to make it to the second day of the tournament unscathed since Galesburg’s Ian Boydstun and Jared Meeker in 2006.

“Coming in to today we were just really pumped,” Stewart said.  “It was a pretty eventful day.  Most of the time I didn’t even know what time it was because we were playing the whole time.”

After winning their first two matches without dropping a set, Stewart and Rauh fell behind early agaginst Lake Forest’s Andy Walker and Carter Wheatley and lost their first set of the season.

Trailing 5-2 in the second, the Metamora tandem was able to keep their hopes alive by pulling off a key break to bring it to 5-3.

That win swung the momentum into the Redbirds’ favor as they went on to win ten of the next 12 games to steal a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 victory.

“We just stuck balls in play and tried to play out each point,” said Stewart, who held serve after the break to keep the pressure on Lake Forest.

“Once we broke them to bring it to 5-3 and then held to make it 5-4 we started to gain some confidence.  We could tell that they were nervous and starting to choke a little.”

The next test for the Redbirds figures to be their toughest yet, as they are set to face Hinsdale Central’s top-seeded tandem of Dan Ballantine and Ian Tesmond at 9 am Friday at Mount Prospect.

“It’s going to be tough,” Stewart said.  “We need to hold our serves and get a few breaks, which won’t be easy, but you never know.”

The Redbirds’ effort highlighted a fairly successful day for JS-area competitors, who went a combined 24-19.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 28, 2009

New Metamora Duo is Food for Thought

By Josh Wessler

PEORIAThe last two weeks in David Stewart’s tennis life might not have played out the way he envisioned, but they have been memorable nonetheless.

Just last Monday, everything seemed to be in perfect order for the Metamora junior on the courts.

He and doubles partner Nate Wilson had just won the No. 1 doubles title at the Mid-Illini Conference tournament to help the Redbirds to their third straight M-I title.  With the Ottawa Sectional looming later in the week, Stewart and Wilson had visions of sectional glory playing in their heads.

But like a sucker punch to the stomach, those hopes were dashed the next day when Wilson was one of several Metamora students ruled ineligible for athletic competition for participating in a food fight on the last day of classes for seniors.

“I just thought ‘This can’t be happening after the good season that we just had,’ ” Stewart said.  “It was so sudden.  It was like a huge crush to the heart.”

So, rather than competing with the partner with whom he qualified for the state finals as a freshman, Stewart was paired up with classmate Stephan Rauh.  Despite having played just two matches prior to the sectional, the tandem was awarded the top seed in the doubles draw.

The duo made quick work of their opponents, sweeping their way to the doubles title without so much as dropping a game in four matches.  That win helped Metamora claim its third straight sectional title.

Having played just six matches together this season, Stewart and Rauh were awarded a 9-16 seed at the state finals, much to the surprise of Stewart.

The duo will begin their state run Thursday when they take on Bloomington’s freshman duo of Nathan Cavanaugh and Ricky Zamudio in Mount Prospect.

“That was very surprising,” he said.  “I thought we might sneak in with a 17-32 seed, but not a 9-16.”

While their list of on-court accomplishments may not be that long compared to other teams in the field, it does hold some weight.

Of their six wins — all of which were 6-0, 6-0 triumphs — four of them came against state qualifiers.

“They got a nice seed for a team that hasn’t played a lot of matches together,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “But while they might not have played a lot this year, that doesn’t mean they haven’t played together in the past.  They’re friends and they know each other inside and out, so it didn’t take very long for them to figure things out.”

For Stewart, who is 2-4 in two previous trips to the state doubles tournament, the chance to make a run alongside his team’s No. 1 singles player is something he hopes to take full advantage of.

“Stephan is just a really good player.  He brings me and my game up to his level and just having him on the court with me gives me a lot of confidence,” Stewart said.  “And while there is still a part of me that would like to have been able to finish out the season with Nate at state, I’m pretty confident that Stephan and I will play pretty well up there.  We’re excited.”

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 24, 2009

Metamora Earns Sectional Title

By Josh Wessler

OTTAWADespite playing with a depleted roster, Metamora earned its third straight title thanks to a 1-2 finish in doubles.

David Stewart and Stephan Rauh won the doubles title without dropping a game in four rounds.  They won the title by beating teammates Greg Coffman and Jared Rauh, 6-0, 6-0.

Patrick Hammers won his fourth singles title for LaSalle-Peru, which finished second.  Hammers beat Ottawa’s Alex Fleshman 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

May 19, 2009

Metamora Tennis Three-Peat

By Josh Wessler

EAST PEORIAAs the final match of the Mid-Illini Conference tournament played out Monday night at Illinois Central College, the Metamora boys tennis team found itself in an unusual, yet familiar position.

With a third straight M-I title already in the bag, an upbeat and relaxed Redbirds squad sat and watched as junior teammate Ryan Donnelly battled Dunlap’s Spencer Graves for the No. 2 singles title.

And while Graves ended up besting Donnelly in three hard-fought sets, the loss hardly put a damper on the Redbirds’ spirits as they celebrated their unbeaten run through the M-I.

By advancing to all four division finals, Metamora had all but assured itself of a three-peat by the time that Donnelly took the court against Graves.  Having won their previous two M-I titles in last-match fashion, a relaxed finish was a welcome experience for the Redbirds, who won last year’s title on the strength of a Donnelly victory in the tourney’s final match.

Morton finished second in the tournament to place second in the overall conference standings.  Dunlap took third, with Pekin finishing fourth ahead of East Peoria, Washington, and Limestone.

“Our guys played well today, but the neat thing about this conference is that no matter how good we might think we are or how well we’re supposed to do on a day like this, every match was still a challenge,” Metamora coach Kelly Willard said.  “Nothing was simple.  We’ve got a pretty solid team, but we had to work like dogs to win this thing today and that was satisfying.”

“We might have had it a little bit earlier this year, but we still had to do a lot of work to get to that point.  It wasn’t easy, that’s for darn sure.”

Morton senior Brock Reiman became the first player to win four No. 1 singles titles by defeating Metamora junior Stephan Rauh 6-2, 6-1 in the final.  Last Tuesday, Rauh became the first player to defeat Reiman in M-I play with a two-set victory over the Potters ace in a 9-0 Redbirds win.

“I think last week’s loss helped me refocus in on practicing hard and playing hard,” Reiman said.  “(Stephan) really makes you earn it.  He’s a good player and you can’t just go into a match with him without a gameplan and just try to hit him off of the court.”

Metamora juniors David Stewart and Nate Wilson took the No. 1 doubles title by defeating Morton’s Philip Reinken and Tate Hohulin 7-6(1), 6-3.

Alex Corwin and Jared Rauh’s 6-2, 6-1 win over Morton’s Josh Bailey and Nathan Imig in the No. 2 doubles final made it a doubles sweep for the Redbirds.

May 6, 2009

M-I Conference Showdown Set

By Josh Wessler

PEORIAAs usual, the final week of the conference season is shaping up to be an eventful one for the Mid-Illini’s big three.

In what is slated to be the last conference match of the season before the league tournament May 15 in Pekin, two-time defending league champ Metamora will host Morton next Tuesday in a match that could potentially determine which team claims the league title.

Historically, the Potters have dominated the Redbirds in head-to-head matchups.  The 15-time M-I champs are 38-5 against Metamora all-time and have won the last eight matches against their red-clad counterparts.

On paper, this looks to be the year that the Redbirds will come away with bragging rights.  Winners of 11 straight and a perfect 5-0 record in the league, the Redbirds have proven themselves to be the team to beat in the JS-area this season.

But with three-time M-I singles champ Brock Reiman heading an improving Potters lineup, nothing is a given.

A year ago, the Potters spoiled the Redbirds’ bid at a perfect M-I run with a 5-4 victory in Morton.  That set up a three-way tie with Dunlap heading into the league tournament at ICC.  With a victory over Limestone next Tuesday in Dunlap, the Eagles could find themselves in yet another three-way tie for first with a Potters win or in sole possession of second should the Redbirds get the win.

Adding some extra flavor into the mix is the anticipated No. 1 singles match between Reiman and Metamora junior Stephan Rauh.  Last season, Reiman defeated Rauh 6-4, 6-2 to claim his third M-I singles title at the league tournament just days after Rauh took the Potters’ ace to three sets in what was an eventual victory for the Bradley-bound Reiman.

The Journal Star – Peoria, IL

April 22, 2009

Mid-Illini Update

By Josh Wessler

PEORIAAs the halfway point of the season approaches, Metamora finds inself in a familiar spot in the M-I title hunt.

The two-time defending champions are 4-0 in league play, including victories over upstart Pekin and a 6-3 victory over a tough Dunlap squad.

Morton figures to be the biggest roadblock for Metamora in its bid for an undefeated league run.  Morton, 2-1 in the league, is coming off a first-place finish at the Pekin Invitational and is led by defending singles champ Brock Reiman.  The Potters’ only blemish was a 6-3 loss April 4 to Dunlap (2-1).

Metamora plays host May 12 to Morton in the regular-season league finale for both teams.