FAYETTEVILLE -- One tennis match does not make an entire season.
Hans Corbell was the top singles player in the boys' division of 7A-West Conference tennis through the regular season. Corbell, a senior at Fayetteville, was so good that nobody he came across on the court was able to hand him a defeat prior to conference tournament play.
NOTABLE Named Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette Doubles Player of the Year with teammate Cannon Kern as a junior. … Won every regular season match in singles play this season. … Only loss this year came in conference tournament semifinals to eventual tourney champion Jack Vaughn of Rogers. … Won consolation match over Michael Zheng of Rogers and will be No. 3 seed in singles play at Class 7A state. … Plans to attend Ouachita Baptist to play tennis in college.
So despite one bad match, one less than top-notch performance, in a 7A-West Conference tournament semifinals loss to Jack Vaughn of Rogers High, Corbell is still a player in the middle of a strong season. And a Purple'Dog with plenty on the line as the Class 7A state tournament still looms ahead.
"(The loss) made me reflect a lot on the whole season and how I played," Corbell said. "I played a lot more aggressive during the season and when I got to conference I got more tentative and relaxed.
"I'm definitely going to go into state more aggressive and focused than I did at conference."
Corbell switched to a focus on singles play for his senior year after a successful two-year run in doubles. He and Cannon Kern finished as conference and state runner-up in his sophomore year in 2014, then improved to 7A-West doubles champs in 2015 with the key victory that would help Fayetteville earned a share of the conference title.
"It's been a big change," Corbell said. "Instead of relying on another player you've got the court all to yourself and there's a lot of pressure on you instead of you and a teammate.
"I like playing singles. I like the independence."
Fayetteville tennis coach Darin Phelan credits Corbell's confidence as a top attribute throughout this season. Despite the loss in the conference semifinals, Corbell did bounce back and defeat Michael Zheng of Rogers High in the tournament consolation bracket to earn the No. 3 singles seed from the 7A-West for next week's state tournament.
Now Phelan expects Corbell to carry that victory with him into state, where Fayetteville will rely on its top singles player from some big points if it hopes to have a chance at the team title.
"Hans knows his singles play is directly related to how we finish," Phelan said. "He came out against (Jack) Vaughn and just played a little tentative.
"It just wasn't the same guy I had seen all year, and that loss hurt him. But he came back and he knew that point forward was about state. He came back and beat Michael (Zheng) and played great. And he's played great and put in more work than any kid I've had the past two years."
Corbell plans to play college tennis at Ouachita Baptist, but first he hopes to grab the one high school prize that has eluded him up to this point -- a state championship.
"Every year we've won conference and this year it didn't happen," Corbell said. "So maybe this year we can go down to state and it can go the other way."
Sports on 10/13/2016
Print Headline: Confident Corbell sets sights on state