Metamora tennis finishes in top-3 at IHSA finals

In what is hopefully the first of many more stories during the summer, I wrote about my hometown high school’s recent trip to state. The story was published in the Woodford Courier. Follow and like them on FaceBook to see additional work I complete this summer.

Arlington Heights — Metamora seniors Fletcher Koehrsen and Carsten Boast earned the best state finish in Metamora boy’s and girl’s tennis history picking up a third-place finish Saturday at the Class 1A state championships played at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.

The No. 3-seeded Redbird doubles team defeated Lisle Benet Academy’s Danny McGuigan and Casey Schrader 6-3, 6-0 in the final match of their MTHS career. The lone loss of the weekend came in a 6-1, 6-0 semifinal round loss to top-seeded Sam Fleming and Arjun Asokumar from Chicago University.

The University duo went on to defeat Dunlap’s Steven Chacko and David Wu 6-1, 6-4 to claim the 1A state championship.

Metamora coach Kelly Willard said coming into the weekend with the top-4 seed added pressure on the pair but said his players fed off of the high energy from the larger than normal crowds and stepped up when it mattered most.

“Normally, tennis matches are being watched by a few dozen people,” he said. “Being on a court with several hundred fans screaming and chanting after every point is a very different experience.  Our guys loved every second of it.”

Willard added the continued hard work of the pair was a key contributor to their success both over the weekend and throughout their high-school careers.

“Both of them have worked incredibly hard at the little things that differentiate good doubles teams from great doubles teams,” he said. “And I could not be more proud of both of them.”

The two MTHS graduates will be off to their respective colleges in the fall with Koehrsen staying closer to home to attend Illinois Central College. Boast, MTHS class of 2017 valedictorian, will attend the University of Illinois and major in mechanical engineering.

Johan Olsen and Ethan Greenfield finish in top 24

First-time state-qualifiers, senior Johan Olsen and freshman Ethan Greenfield made the most of their first trip to the state finals playing the maximum number of sets (9) and five tie-breakers on just the first day of competition.

After an opening 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) win over the doubles team of Joe Palakeel and Nicklas Nelson from Aurora Illinois Math and Science Academy, the two fell 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in a round two battle with Bensenville Fenton’s Joe and Jeff Andrews.

The doubles team bounced back to push another match to the maximum number of sets to end the day with a 7-6 (1), 2-6, (10-8) win over Thomas Batka and David Harte from Lombard Montini.

Willard said the competitive play from the two came as no surprise after what they went through to make it to state.

“Those two have thrived on pressure situations all year,” he said. “In the last three weeks, they have played 11 matches, and seven of them have been three-set matches.

“Virtually everything they have done lately has been incredibly competitive.  They stared down match point in the sectional at 5-6 in the third set tie-breaker before winning 8-6.”

With Olsen graduating and attending Illinois State in the fall, Willard will look to Greenfield to take the experience and pass it on to his teammates next year.

What you need to know

  • The state finals are the first year that IHSA has used a two-class system.
  • As a team, the Redbirds finished tie-sixth in the team standings, also a school best.
  • Tennis coach Kelly Willard currently sports a .831 winning percentage (309-63) in 20 seasons with the team.

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