Metamora High School tennis feature

Tom Batters
Quinn Vaughn

After two of his top players were suspended just days before the Sectional in 2009, Metamora High School boys tennis Kelly Willard coach had to throw freshman Quinn Vaughn into the fire.

Willard had no idea how Vaughn would respond, but he had a gut feeling that he would make it through that fire.

“We really needed him to make the quarterfinals (in order for the team to win the Sectional, which it did), and he did just fine,” Willard said. “That was a lot of pressure for a freshman who had not played in many big matches like that before. He rose to the occasion, and he played really well.”

Vaughn, who is now the only senior in Metamora’s top 6, smiled and said, “Yeah, that was a little nerve-wracking,” when asked about being thrown into the Sectional as a freshman. “But, it was fun.”

Vaughn waited his turn as a sophomore behind a deep, talented Redbird team that included Stephan Rauh and David Stewart.

Last year, as a junior, he teamed up with freshman Mitchell Nguyen to win a Sectional doubles trophy and lead Metamora to its fifth straight conference and Sectional team titles.

Willard said Vaughn deserves a lot of credit for helping Nguyen learn the doubles game, even if his teaching style might have been a little “intense” at times.

“He helped Mitchell by making Mitchell petrified of him,” Willard said, laughing. “No, let’s just say that Quinn can be a demanding leader. If something is wrong, he’ll let you know about it.”

Vaughn said he was simply trying to bring out the best in Nguyen, who he called “a phenomenal player.”

“Mitchell has so much talent. His ground strokes are as good as anybody around,” Vaughn said. “We made a pretty good team.”

This year, Willard paired Vaughn with junior Christoph Goettler, and that duo has become one of the most formidable doubles teams in the state.

“Earlier in the season, I wasn’t sure what doubles combinations I would use,” Willard said. “Then, I watched Quinn and Christoph dominate a very good Highland Park team, and I thought, ‘Hmm. I think we have something here.’  They play really well together, and I expect them to make a run at a Sectional title.

Vaughn, who is also a top singles player, said he prefers doubles, mostly because of the faster pace and more complex strategy.

“You have to have fast hands, and you have to know where to move on the court at just the right time,” he said.

Willard said Vaughn’s competitive nature and “no fear” attitude make him the perfect doubles player.

“He’s not afraid to charge the net,” he said. “But, he’s also very talented. He hits shots that not many other players can make ... And, over the past year, he’s become a much smarter player. He’s learning to put points together in a smarter way. It’s all starting to come together for him.”