FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas senior Blake Strode has been named the central region recipient of both the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship and the ITA/ Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award for Division I Tennis, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association has announced. As the regional winner of each award, Strode is also a nominee for the national awards.“I am very pleased and honored to receive both of the regional awards,” Strode said. “The sportsmanship awards are very important to me because, while results on the court are important, sportsmanship speaks to a person’s character and I’m happy to be recognized in the central region for that reason.”
Head Arkansas coach Robert Cox, who has coached Strode (22-11) to his current No. 15 singles ranking has seen Strode’s evolution over four years at Arkansas and believes Strode is a solid candidate for both national awards.
“Blake is a very, very special young man,” Cox said. “He is very deserving of both these regional awards. On and off the court, Blake demonstrates what good sportsmanship is by always being in control of his emotions and understanding the big picture of what sport is all about.”
The ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship, which Strode garnered regional honors for last season, honors a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.
“The Arthur Ashe award is a special award,” Cox said. “Blake is a very strong candidate for the national award as he represents everything it stands for.”
The other regional winners and national nominees for the 2009 award are: Chris Clayton (Harvard), Jamie Hunt (Georgia), Jared Miller (Toledo), Christoph Muller (Rice), Graeme Kassautzki (New Mexico) and Omar Altmann (Pepperdine).
This is Strode’s first regional nod for the ITA/Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award, which goes to a men’s player who displays sportsmanship, character, excellent academics and has had outstanding tennis accomplishments.
The other national nominees for this year’s ITA/Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award are: Clayton, Altmann, Davey Sandgren (Tennessee), Brett Helgeson (Notre Dame) and Clancy Shields (Boise State).
Known for his prowess on and off the court, Strode recently completed a double major at Arkansas in international economics and Spanish, graduating with a 3.972 grade-point average.
Earlier this season, Strode, a Bodenhamer fellow, was named the Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was also a finalist for both the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award and the prestigious Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship.
In his career at Arkansas, Strode has earned a pair of ESPN The Magazine all-district honors, was the 2008 SEC Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a constant on the Arkansas Athletics Department and SEC academic honor rolls.
Having earned two bachelor’s degrees, Strode will continue to pursue tennis before attending law school. He has been accepted to law programs at Duke, NYU, Georgetown and Harvard.
Next up for Strode is the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship in College Station, Texas, where he is the No. 15 seed, May 20-25.
For more information and for complete coverage of Arkansas athletics, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.