FAYETTEVILLE– Former University of Arkansas Razorback star Blake Strode is making his way in the tennis world with a wild card entry from the USTA tocompete at the 2009 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana, in Champagne, Ill. Strode prevailed over Vincent Spadea in the first round, 7-5, 6-2, onMonday.
Strode is a fiery competitor and established himself as one of the top players in college tennis. He ended his college career ranked No. 15 in the ITArankings, and was a 2009 NCAA semifinalist. Strode continues his excellence, climbing the ATP rankings to No. 610, and claiming his first professionaltournament victory at the 2009 Millennium Tennis Club $10,000 Men’s Future in Joplin, Mo. Strode made his grand slam debut in the US Open qualifyingtournament against Alexandre Sidorenko. Strode fell to Sidorenko, 6-3, 6-1.
Strode will return to the courts to play the winner of the match between wildcard entry Dennis Nevolo and the top seed Kevin Kim, ranked 90th in theATP world rankings. In February, Kim and Strode went head to head in the opening round of the 2009 Memphis ATP. Strode took a strong lead 4-0 in thefirst set but Kim found an unstoppable rhythm to win the match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Today’s matches begin at noon. For more information and complete results visit: www.illinoischallanger.com.