TAYLOR MADE!

Tom Batters
Taylor Koehrsen

In 2008, Taylor Koehrsen won the first girls No. 1 Singles Sectional title in Metamora Township High School history.

She was only a sophomore and she had to beat her teammate, junior Rachel Ngo (the No. 1 singles player for the Redbirds).

Koehrsen lost the first set, and she was down 3-0 in the third set as the match lingered into its third hour.

Koehrsen rallied to defeat Ngo, which was quite an accomplishment for a sophomore, but Redbirds’ coach Brad Boeker was not surprised by the gutsy rally.

“Taylor was not your typical sophomore,” he said. “Even when she came in here as a freshman the year before, she was way ahead of a lot of players. She’s a quiet kid, but she is as tough as nails. She’s a fierce competitor."

Koehrsen defended her Sectional title last year when she beat Abby Klaus of Richwoods.

Going into that match, the team standings were close, and the Redbirds needed Koehrsen to win her match if they were going to overtake Richwoods for the team title.

“I knew we were going to win it,” Boeker said. “Taylor doesn’t get overwhelmed by the moment. Even in a big match like that, she stayed in control, and she beat a very good player.”

Koehrsen said she hopes to add a third Sectional title to her resumé this season, but she does not expect anyone to hand it to her.

“There are a lot of good players out there,” she said. “I have to continue to work hard and get better, or somebody will beat me.”

Boeker said Koehrsen’s standards are superior, almost to a fault.

“She’s a bit of a perfectionist,” he said. “She will win 6-0, 6-1, and she’ll come off the court thinking about that one game she lost. She doesn’t like to lose a single point. It’s hard to be perfect in tennis, but that’s what drives her.”

Koehrsen, who has been playing tennis since she was old enough to hold a racquet, plays year round in USTA tournaments.

At a recent summer tournament, she won all eight of her matches, and only one of them was competitive (a third-set tie break victory).

“She thrives on that,” Boeker said. “If she is in a tight match, especially in the third set, then she is going to compete until the very end.”

Koehrsen made the varsity team as a freshman in 2007. She could have been a No. 1 Singles player even back then, but Boeker needed her to play doubles.

She advanced to state in doubles with Katie Kilduski, and helped the Redbirds win their first ever team Sectional title (the first of three straight team titles).

In 2008, she played No. 2 Singles (Ngo was No. 1), which set up the dramatic Sectional championship match between the two teammates.

“That was hard on both of us,” Koehrsen said. “We both really wanted it. It’s hard to try to go out and beat your own friend and teammate.”

Earlier in the day, Koehrsen beat Christina Cheng of Richwoods in the semifinals.

Minutes before that match was about to start, on her final warm-up shot, Koehrsen broke a string on her racquet.

“That kind of thing might have rattled some players,” Boeker said. “But Taylor showed a lot of mental toughness. She didn’t let it bother her.”

Koehrsen laughs about it now.

“I was not happy about it at the time," she said, smiling. “But, there was nothing I could do. I just had to get a new racquet and play the match.”

Koehrsen will play No. 1 Singles this season, and Boeker said she will have a big target on her back.

“There’s no doubt that she will be the top player in this area. Everybody is going to want to beat her,” he said. “She can handle it, though. From what I’ve seen this summer, I think she is getting even better. She has always been an excellent defensive player. She gets to balls that you would think are unreachable. She came in this summer hitting the ball much harder. She is showing some offensive firepower and ending her points quicker. She'll be very tough to beat.”