Cory Stewart, a tennis standout at Springdale High School, moved up in the state rankings this week. He is now the No. 4 ranked junior tennis player in Arkansas.
"It feels good," said Stewart. "I put a lot of work into it and it's really come through."
Stewart is undefeated in singles play this year, but has a pair of challenging conference matches coming up that could put a blemish on his record.
"I don't like losing," said Stewart. "I don't want to give the other players the confidence if I drop a match to them in the season. I don't want to face them in the conference tournament and them think they can beat me. I don't want to leave anyone any doubt that I am one of the best players in the conference."
Stewart's performance on the court is leading to better play from his teammates.
"He's a quiet leader," said Springdale Head Coach Britt James. "He lets his talking pretty much dictate on the court and the kids follow that. They see how hard he works."
"He makes me a better player," said Stewart's doubles partner Jose Herrera. "Just the way he works out there with me. He shows true character out there."
Some of the top players in the 7A West graduated last year and that has Stewart motivated to make a deep run in the postseason.
"Hopefully I can step up and be one of those guys to go far in the 7A state and the state overall tournament," said Stewart. "That is my goal."