FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas men’s tennis team is ranked No. 46 in the initial poll released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Razorbacks also garnered individual recognition for their top two returners, Blake Strode and Matt Hogan who enter the spring ranked No. 15 and No. 39, respectfully, in singles. The duo is also ranked No. 14 in doubles.“It’s great to have Blake and Matt ranked in top 40,” Cox said. “These rankings are decided by results, not determined by votes. There are over 3,000 Division I men’s tennis players in the country and for the Razorbacks to have two players in the top 40 shows that our hard work and determination to establish ourselves as one of the country’s top teams is paying off.”
Arkansas’ No. 1 player, Strode begins his final dual match season with the Hogs with his highest ranking to date at No. 15. He is also ranked as the No. 3 singles player in the central region. Ranked No. 41 in the preseason, Strode went 7-4 during the fall, posting wins over then-No. 9 Bryan Koneicko of Ohio State and Arnau Brugues of Tulsa then ranked No.6, to reach the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships. Advancing to the quarterfinals of the All-American, Strode qualified himself for National Indoors where he fell to Virginia’s Michael Shabaz, ranked No. 104 at the time.
Playing in his first fall with the Razorbacks since coming to Arkansas last January, sophomore Hogan jumped from a No. 124 preseason ranking all the way to No. 39 in the country and No. 4 in the central region after advancing to the finals of the Central Region Championships where he lost to Brugues. On his way to reaching the finals, Hogan racked up wins over then-No. 22 Andrei Daescu from Oklahoma in the quarterfinals and Drake’s Maor Zirkin, then-No. 81, in the semifinal round. Hogan’s appearance in the Central Regional finals earned him a spot at National Indoors where then-No. 18 Dominic Inglot of Virginia bested the Hog in straight sets.
In doubles, the team of Hogan and Strode began the season unranked but will enter the spring ranked No. 14 nationally and No. 3 in the region after a breakout fall. The duo picked up two victories over top 50 teams, taking down the then-No. 32 team of Attila Bucko and Jordan Rux of Baylor and Chris Chirico and Wil Spencer of Texas A&M, then ranked No. 45.
“Having a top 15 doubles team gives the whole team added confidence in doubles play, Cox said. “For us, watching Blake and Matt play well this fall validates our doubles play which will help everybody as the season progresses.”
The Razorbacks’ impressive fall included nine players entered in the main draw at the Wilson/ITA Central Region Championships and two players qualifying for the field of 32 at the prestigious ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
“I’m very excited about upcoming season,” Razorbacks head coach Robert Cox said. “We have a good, young team with season with only two seniors. The team is excited about reaching its goals of getting back to NCAA tournament after a two year absence and working toward returning to top 25 in country.”
Arkansas is one of 10 SEC teams ranked to begin the dual match season. Four schools, Georgia (3), Tennessee (8), Ole Miss (9) and Florida (10) are ranked in the top 10.
The Hogs will be back on the court in Auburn, Ala., at the Auburn Quad Jan. 23-25. For complete coverage of Arkansas men’s tennis, log onto ArkansasRazorbacks.com.