As the Stewarts begin their 16th year at Gadsden State, they are optimistic about the coming season. This past season, the Cardinals excelled in the classroom with Sloan Gartman, Alex Ivey and Stephen Walker being selected as ITA Scholar Athletes. In addition, the Cardinals ranked 10th in the nation academically (tie) for JUCO men’s tennis teams. Gartman, Ivey and Walker were also named NJCAA Academic Award winners.
During the past fifteen seasons, the Cardinals have finished in the Top 25 nine times and the Academic Top 10 thirteen times. They have claimed two Conference Championships and eight runner up finishes during that span.
The Cardinals lost four sophomores from last year’s team. Returnees include Justin Blake, Kyle Hale, and Ivey will be joined by newcomers Landon Macoy, Jac Myrick, Kyle Parker, Seth Turner, Adam Vitolo and Chase White.
Coach Stewart played college tennis at Gadsden State (1971-1973) and Shorter College (1973-1975). During these four years, he was 118-42 in singles matches, 108-40 in doubles, and was named All Conference three out of four years. Coach Stewart participated in the National Tournament three of his four seasons; with his Shorter team finishing 9th in the nation in 1975. Coach Stewart was named ITA Region IV Coach of the Year in 2008, and NJCAA Region 22 Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Coach Stewart received his 35 years as a USPTA Professional award in 2018.
Coach Stewart is assisted by his wife, Paula (Coach P.), and their eldest son, Taylor. Coach Stewart and Coach P. were both formerly ranked in the Top 10 in the State of Alabama. The Stewarts served as volunteer tennis coaches at Southside High School for twelve seasons. Thirteen students earned college tennis scholarships during their tenure. The Stewarts also serve as Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Huddle Leaders here at Gadsden State.
Taylor is a graduate of Samford University, and is a USPTA tennis teaching professional in Guntersville, Alabama. The Stewart’s youngest son, Trey was a member of the 2005 Cardinals team, and is a graduate of Auburn University. Trey earned his USPTA certification in 2009 and works as a talent acquisition manager for Google in Austin, Texas.