2018 Articles

2018 Season Recap

Metamora – The 2018 Redbird tennis season brought many question marks, as Metamora had graduated its top three players from 2017 and returned very little varsity experience.  Despite this limited experience, Metamora put together a remarkable 2018 campaign.  Here are a few highlights from the season:

  •  Metamora finished with a dual record of 19-1, improving its three-year record to 62-5.


  •  The Redbirds were the champions of the season opening indoor quad, the 8-team Red & White Invite, and the 6-team Ottawa Invite.


  • At the conference tournament, Metamora achieved at a high level.  Ethan Greenfield won the #2 singles title, his second conference crown in two years.  Brian Lelm and Grant Gutwein finished 2nd at #2 doubles.  Michael Poppen was 3rd at #1 singles, and Keegan DeShon and Zack Lambiase were 4th at #1 doubles.  Metamora entries in the league tournament have now played in a stunning 39 of the last 46 finals.


  • At the Ottawa Sectional, Metamora dominated the competition, qualifying all six players for the state meet for the first time since 2011.  Michael Poppen (jr) played his teammate Brian Lelm (fr) in the championship match, winning his first sectional title.  Ethan Greenfield (so) and Grant Gutwein (sr) won the sectional doubles crown with a tight 7-6, 7-5 win over a very good Ottawa duo.  It was the 13th consecutive year that Metamora had a doubles team in the sectional championship match.  Keegan DeShon and Zack Lambiase finished 3rd in the sectional, losing the semi-final in three sets to Ottawa before rebounding to capture the 3rd place match.  The Redbirds scored an all-time best 35 team points (36 is perfect).  Morris and Ottawa tied for second place with 14.


  • At the state meet, Metamora had no entries seeded for the first time in over a decade.  However, all four entries played well and Metamora recorded seven points to finish 17th in the team standings.  Greenfield and Gutwein finished in the top 24 to earn all-state status.  Poppen finished in the 25th-32nd place group to fall just short of a similar honor.

Individually, the season was spectacular.  There were so many individual achievements; here are a few:

  • Michael Poppen stepped into the #1 singles role and posted 23 wins, including the IHSA Sectional title at Ottawa.  He finished in the top 32 at the state meet, capping off an excellent junior year.


  • Ethan Greenfield (soph) and Grant Gutwein (sr) each recorded 38 wins on the year, culminating with an IHSA Sectional doubles title.  The duo won three matches at the state meet to finish in the top 24, earning third team all-state.


  • Freshman Brian Lelm came on strong to post 32 wins, 16 in singles and 16 in doubles.  He finished 2nd (to Poppen) at the IHSA Sectional, qualifying for the state meet.


  • Seniors Keegan DeShon and Zack Lambiase formed a quality doubles team that won 22 matches and finished 3rd at the IHSA Sectional to qualify for the state meet.


  • Juniors Jeremiah Poppen (19 wins) and Cullen Nevitt (16 wins) gave Metamora loads of depth, as the Redbirds were very difficult to compete with deep into the line-up.


  • Poppen and Greenfield were named first team all-conference.


The 2018 Metamora tennis team was the first in a very long time that came into the season without much experience at the top of the line-up.  The Redbirds pulled out many tight dual matches (four matches were won on a final match tie-break) to post a sparkling 19-1 record on the season.  Capping off the season with a sectional title and qualifying all six players for the state meet made this season one to remember.  As always, the fellas on the 2018 Redbird tennis team were close friends and loved being together.  Practices, trips, tournaments, Illini matches, summer events — these were all loads of fun for this group.  The memories made will again be forever cherished.

Congratulations to the Metamora Redbird tennis team on another fantastic season!!

Redbirds Take Summer Trip to Champaign

Champaign – (6/18) – For the seventh consecutive year, the Redbird tennis team played a summer team event at the Atkins Center on the campus of the University of Illinois.  Metamora took a 14-person team to battle squads from Gurnee Warren, Troy Triad, and the Champaign area.  The Redbirds played 48 individual matches throughout the weekend, winning 40!

Day 1

Metamora  5, Troy Triad  1

1  Loss  (Greenfield / Lelm)  6-4, 3-6, 10-6
2  Win  (M Poppen / C Nevitt)  6-4, 6-0
3  Win  (Hawbaker / Lowe)  6-2, 6-0
4  Win  (Shallat / Manwaring)  6-0, 6-0
5  Win  (J Poppen / Vogel)  6-0, 6-0
6  Win  (K Nevitt / O’Laughlin)  6-1, 7-5

Metamora  5, Gurnee Warren  1

1  Loss  (Greenfield / Lelm)  6-4, 6-4
2  Win  (M Poppen / C Nevitt)  6-0, 6-3
3  Win  (Hawbaker / Lowe)  6-4, 6-2
4  Win  (Shallat / Manwaring)  7-6, 6-7, 7-3
5  Win  (Geurink / O’Laughlin)  8-5
6  Win  (Vogel / Olsen)  8-1

Metamora  5, Champaign  1

1  Win  (Greenfield / Lelm)  8-2
2  Win  (M Poppen / C Nevitt)  8-6
3  Loss  (Hawbaker / Lowe)  8-3
4  Win  (J Poppen / Shallat)  8-3
5  Win  (Manwaring / K Nevitt)  8-5
6  Win  (Geurink / Vogel)  8-3

Day 2

Metamora  17, Troy Triad  1

1  Win  (M Poppen)  7-5, 6-0
2  Loss  (Greenfield)  4-6, 6-1, 10-4
3  Win  (Lelm)  6-1, 6-1
4  Win  (C Nevitt)  6-4, 6-4
5  Win  (J Poppen)  6-0, 6-0
6  Win  (Hawbaker)  6-4, 6-0
7  Win  (Lowe)  6-1, 6-3
8  Win  (Shallat)  6-0, 6-1
9  Win  (Geurink)  6-1, 6-0
10 Win  (Manwaring)  6-2, 6-0
11 Win  (O’Laughlin)  6-0, 6-0
12 Win  (Olsen)  2-6, 6-1, 10-8

1  Win  (Greenfield / M Poppen)  6-2
2  Win  (C Nevitt / Lelm)  6-3
3  Win  (Shallat / J Poppen)  6-1
4  Win  (Manwaring / Lowe)  6-0
5  Win  (Hawbaker / O’Laughlin)  6-0
6  Win  (Olsen / Geurink)  6-3
Metamora  8, Gurnee Warren  4
1  Win  (M Poppen)  6-4, 6-0
2  Win  (Lelm)  6-4, 6-0
3  Win  (Greenfield)  6-1, 6-0
4  Loss  (C Nevitt)  6-3, 6-1
5  Win  (J Poppen)  7-5, 10-6
6  Loss  (Shallat)  7-6, 6-4
7  Win  (Hawbaker)  6-4, 6-1
8  Loss  (Lowe)  6-3, 6-4
9  Win  (Manwaring)  6-2, 6-0
10 Loss  (K Nevitt)  6-0, 6-4
11 Win  (O’Laughlin)  6-0, 6-2
12 Win  (Vogel)  6-0, 6-0
Redbirds Finish 17th at IHSA State Meet
Greenfield, Gutwein Third Team All-State in Doubles
Arlington Heights – (5/26/18) – Metamora’s tennis team took all 6 sectional participants to the state meet in 2018, as the Redbirds qualified all six entrants for only the fourth time in school history.
Michael Poppen and Brian Lelm played in the state singles draw.  Poppen won his opening round match quickly to reach the round of 32.  In the round of 32, he played Nicolas Welker of Burlington Central, a top 4 seed.  Michael was sent to the back draw by Welker, who wound up finishing 3rd in the tournament.  In the back draw, Michael won a match to make it to the second day of competition.  Friday morning, he was ousted from the tournament by a local rival, Stephen Ferkol of Peoria Christian.  Michael’s 25th-32nd place finish earned three team points for the Redbirds.
Brian Lelm lost both of his state matches, but not before putting up a huge fight in the first round against Peoria Notre Dame’s top player, Josh Montefolka.  Brian lost a heart breaker, 7-6(5), 6-3 and was then dismissed from the tournament by Urbana’s Bill Layton in the back draw.
In doubles, sectional champions Ethan Greenfield and Grant Gutwein had a good tournament.  The duo won three rounds (one in the main draw and two in the back draw), earning a top 24 finish.  By finishing in the 17th-24th place group, the pair earned 3rd team All-State honors.  The duo’s biggest win was in its first match on Friday, as Ethan and Grant rallied to post a victory 0-6, 7-5, 10-5 to get into the top 24.  The three wins posted by Greenfield and Gutwein earned four points for Metamora.
Metamora’s other doubles team, Zack Lambiase and Keegan DeShon, lost both matches at the state meet, falling to teams from Chicago Latin and Geneseo.
Overall, Metamora’s seven team points allowed the Redbirds to finish 17th in the second year of the two-class state tournament.  Congratulations to all!

Redbirds Win IHSA Sectional Championship

All Six Redbird Players Qualify for the State Meet

Ottawa – (5/19/18) – The 2018 Metamora Redbird tennis team put an exclamation point on its season with a dominating performance at the Ottawa Sectional.  Metamora scored 35 of a possible 36 points at the event, qualifying all six players for the state meet.  Michael Poppen and Brian Lelm finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, in singles, while Ethan Greenfield and Grant Gutwein won the doubles title.  Zack Lambiase and Keegan DeShon finished 3rd in doubles for the Redbirds.

Junior Michael Poppen earned his first trip to the state meet, only dropping seven games in eight sets en route to the sectional title.  In the final, he beat freshman teammate Brian Lelm, 6-1, 6-3.  Brian advanced to the finals by beating the #2 seed from Streator in the semi-finals, 6-2, 6-3.  Poppen’s sectional title was Metamora’s ninth sectional singles crown in school history.

In doubles, sophomore Ethan Greenfield and senior Grant Gutwein captured the sectional title with a thrilling 7-6(5), 7-5 win over Ottawa’s #1 doubles duo.  The pair reached the final by winning 36 of its 39 games played in the first three rounds.  Seniors Keegan DeShon and Zack Lambiase narrowly missed playing their teammates in the finals, dropping a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 match to Ottawa in the semi-finals.  The doubles crown for Greenfield and Gutwein was Metamora’s tenth sectional doubles title all-time.

In the team race, Metamora finished a distant first with 35 points.  Morris and Ottawa tied for second with 14 points.  The sectional plaque was Metamora’s tenth in the last sixteen years.  Congratulations to the Redbirds!!

Redbirds 2nd at Mid-Illini Tournament

Dunlap – (5/12/18) – The 2019 Mid-Illini Conference tournament featured a high caliber of play from many schools.  Dunlap won its third straight title in the event, but finished more than one point ahead of Metamora for the first time during that run.  The Redbird tennis team finished second, its twelfth consecutive top two finish in the rugged league.

Sophomore Ethan Greenfield picked up Metamora’s only conference title on the day with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 championship triumph over Dunlap’s Arian Rahbar.  The conference crown was Greenfield second straight; he was the champion at #2 doubles as a freshman.
Senior Grant Gutwein and freshman Brian Lelm finished second at #2 doubles.  The duo rolled to the finals, dropping only three games in four sets.  However, they were unable to solve Dunlap’s doubles championship team of Jack Disharoon and Ahmad Khan, losing the final 6-3, 6-2.
Junior Michael Poppen finished third at #1 singles for the second straight year.  Poppen lost a tough match in the semi-finals to Washington’s Ethan Sabotta, 7-5, 6-3, before rebounding in the third place match to defeat Joe Zern of Morton.
Seniors Keegan DeShon and Zack Lambiase finished fourth place at #1 doubles.  After recording a quick win over East Peoria’s #1 duo, DeShon and Lambiase were defeated by teams from Dunlap and Morton, both of whom would eventually finish in the state’s top 16 two weeks later.
Overall, the league standings saw Dunlap win the conference crown with Metamora finishing second.  Washington had its best finish in a quarter century, finishing third.  Morton was fourth.  Poppen and Greenfield were named first team All-Conference, while Gutwein made the second team.  Congratulations!
First Ever Class 1A Pitchford Invite Hosted by Metamora

Metamora – (4/28/18) – Metamora hosted the first ever Tom Pitchford Invitational for Class 1A schools.  Traditionally a 32-team invite held in the northwest Chicago suburbs featuring all of the top teams in Illinois, this invite has been a great help in seeding the state tournaments over the years.  With the recent addition of a second class, Metamora decided to host a similar tournament for the smaller schools.

Sixteen schools descended on Metamora, Washington, and Morton for this year’s inaugural event.  The competition was spectacular, culminating with a singles final that was an early preview of the state championship match.

In the team standings, Normal U-High won the title, while Chicago University finished second.  Those two teams would ultimately tie for the state championship four weeks later.  Chicago Northside (5th at state) and Chicago Latin (3rd at state) were the next two finishers in the incredibly strong field.  Metamora finished 8th in the 16 team event.

Michael Poppen finished 2-2 in the #1 singles bracket, while Brian Lelm also recorded a record of 2-2 at #2 singles.  Ethan Greenfield and Grant Gutwein finished 1-3 at #1 doubles, while Zack Lambiase and Keegan DeShon were 2-2 at #2 doubles.

Redbirds Win Ottawa Invite for Third Straight Year

Ottawa – (4/21/18) – The 2018 Ottawa Pirate Invite was a nailbiter for Redbird fans, as Metamora had to battle through an incredibly tight championship match with Rock Island Alleman to win the team title.

Metamora played three team matches on the day, winning 5-0 contests against DeKalb and Ottawa.  The title match with Alleman, however, was filled with drama and excitement.  The Redbirds split the singles matches and also split the first two doubles matches to finish.  The tournament title came down to #1 doubles.  Ethan Greenfield and Grant Gutwein, after winning the first set 6-3, dropped the second set 4-6 to force a deciding third set match tie-breaker.  In the breaker, the Redbird duo faced a match point at 8-9 before winning the last three points of the match to capture the tie-breaker 11-9.

Congrats to the Redbirds on another Ottawa Invite title!

Metamora Champs of Snowy Red & White Invite

Peoria – (3/24/18) – The 2018 Red & White Invite was like no other on record.  A huge snowstorm forced not the event to not only be moved indoors but it also forced several schools to not be able to attend.  Metamora, Carbondale, Chatham-Glenwood, and Peoria Notre Dame made this year’s event a four-team tournament, and the format was altered so that all participants were able to play lots of tennis.

The #1 and #2 singles players were all entered in the same bracket.  Metamora’s #1 entrant, Michael Poppen, finished 2nd in the 8-player field, while teammate and twin brother Jeremiah Poppen finished 4th.

The #1 and #2 doubles teams were also combined into one draw.  Ethan Greenfield and Grant Gutwein finished 2nd of 8, while teammates Keegan DeShon and Zack Lambiase finished 4th.

The # 3 doubles teams played in their own 4-team draw.  Metamora’s team of Brian Lelm and Cullen Nevitt finished 1st, dropping only two games in four sets.

Overall, Metamora won the team title with 42 team points.  Carbondale (28), Glenwood (26), and Notre Dame (12) finished far behind the Redbirds.

Congrats to all on the title!

Redbirds Win Season Opening Quad

Peoria – (3/17/18) – The season opening quad was a thrilling way to begin the 2018 season.  Metamora recorded wins over Ottawa, Springfield, and Moline to state the season 3-0.

The day began with a 5-0 win over Ottawa, featuring a quality singles win by Metamora’s Zack Lambiase over Ottawa star Jack Marvel, 7-6, 6-4.

Next came Springfield.  Metamora dropped both singles matches, so it would need to sweep the doubles matches to win the dual.  Metamora won #3 doubles handily, but both #1 and #2 doubles went to third set super tie-breakers.  Somehow, Metamora won 11-9 in the #1 doubles breaker and 10-7 in the #2 doubles breaker to clinch the match.  Clutch play by Ethan Greenfield and Michael Poppen (#1) and Grant Gutwein and Brian Lelm (#2) allowed Metamora to sneak away with the win.

In the finale against Moline, the Redbirds were victorious at #2 and #3 doubles in straight sets.  The other three matches all went to third set tie-breakers.  Metamora quickly lost at #2 singles and #1 doubles, leaving the outcome to the #1 singles breaker.  Jeremiah Poppen captured the third set, 10-6, to give the Redbirds another thrilling win.

Congratulations to the Redbirds on a very successful day!