Metamora tennis team prepares for 2013 season

Justin Miller
Christoph Goettler takes a whack during the 2012 season.

The Metamora tennis team is used to crushing foes.

“We are the six-time defending Mid-Illini and Sectional champions, so the expectations are very high in our program,” coach Kelly Willard said. “In our league, Morton will be absolutely terrific.

In our Sectional, Richwoods will have their best team in maybe 25 years so we will be severely challenged throughout the season.

“In addition, we play a brutal non-conference schedule filled with most of the big, talented teams from the Chicago area. So any achievements this team records this season will certainly be well-earned.”

Returning this season to lead a young group through the rigors of a tough schedule are the senior class.

“We have two seniors,” Willard said. “Christoph Goettler is a four-year varsity player and Caleb Neumann is a three-year varsity player. So they have been through it before and know what is expected of our team.

“Christoph, in particular, will be expected to lead by example on the doubles court, as his work ethic, skill set and desire to continuously improve are terrific examples for the younger players.”

The underclass will round out the team with a nice mixture of youth and experience.

“Calling our juniors the younger guys on the team is slightly misleading,” Willard said. “Our top two singles players, Will Koehrsen and Mitchell Nguyen, are third year varsity players. Will has been the Peoria Journal Star Player of the Year the last two years and they both have two individual conference championships the last two seasons. They will certainly be our leaders this year as well.”

Combining with the experienced leaders are several new faces on the varsity level.

“The new juniors are Nick Becker, Trevor Lewandowski, Michael Doublin and Justin McCoy,” Willard said. “They were frosh/sophomore players last year and will be expected to contribute at a whole different level this year. They are learning as we go. The first two weeks have been terrific and very educational for that group.”

With a mix of youth and experience and a clear track record of dominating opponents, Metamora’s reputation should proceed itself.

“From a talent standpoint, I don’t think it’s any secret that the top half of our lineup is very intimidating,” Willard said. “Our job during the season will be to develop the second half of the lineup so that our entire team is very difficult to deal with by the end of the season.

“Another strength of our team is that the guys really get along and like spending lots of time together. They work hard for each other and support each other, which has always been a trademark of our program.”

With a history of winning, the program knows what it has to do to be successful without setting particular goals.

“We don’t set achievement goals because they are so dependent on how other teams play,” Willard said. “We have performance goals for how well we play, how we communicate on the doubles court and how much we improve during the season.

“If we are happy with ourselves, the results will usually take care of themselves.”

To get to the level of previous teams, Willard said the team needs to do what it has always done.

“We work really, really hard throughout the year,” Willard said. “The fellas on this team and their parents have invested significant amounts of time, energy, money and love to this sport.

“We feel like we might not always start with the most talented group but our work ethic and the types of drills we work on help us surpass some more talented teams along the way. If we keep our focus throughout the season, which we will, I will again be very proud to be associated with this tennis team.”