WACO, Tx. – Arkansas duo Matt Hogan and Blake Strode rocked the first day of doubles play, beating two nationally ranked teams on their way to the third round at the HEB Baylor Invitational. Hogan and Strode defeated the fourth seed from Baylor, nationally-ranked No. 32, Attila Bucko and Jordan Rux, 8-6, for their first round win. They continued their assault on seeded teams in the second round, this time eliminating the 45th-ranked team in the country, seventh seeded pair of Chris Chirico and Wil Spencer from Texas A&M, 8-4.
“For Blake and Matt to get two wins over nationally ranked opponents in the first day is awesome; I’m very happy with the way they played and hope they continue to play at a high level throughout the weekend,” said Arkansas coach Robert Cox.
Strode, a senior, fought a tough first singles match of the season before finding his rhythm and securing his spot in the second day of play in the singles tournament. Strode started the contest taking down Texas Tech’s Christian Rojmar in the round of 64, winning 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3. On Friday afternoon in the round of 32, Strode dismissed Emanuel Brighiu of TCU in straight sets, winning 6-1, 6-4.
“It’s great for Blake to get off to a strong start to his senior season,” said Cox. “I’m very proud of the way he played both his matches today.”
Fellow Hog, Matt Hogan, won his first match of the tournament over Austin Klores of Texas A&M 6-1, 6-3.
“Matt Hogan getting his first singles victory of the year against a player from A&M, a solid program and one I have great respect for, is an accomplishment,” said Cox.
However, Hogan hit a wall against the number four seed from Rice, Bruno Rosa, who holds the No. 14 spot in the national rankings. Hogan fell in straight sets to Rosa, 6-4, 6-2. With his loss in the second round, Hogan exits the singles tournament.
Also playing on Friday, sophomore Chris Nott drew a difficult first round match against Dominik Mueller of Baylor, the 44th-ranked singles player in the nation and the No. 10 seed. Mueller wasted no time, knocking Nott out of the main draw in two sets, 6-3, 6-4. Nott’s struggles continued in the consolation tournament as he dropped the first set 3-6 against University of Texas-Arlington’s Dimitry Minkin before coming back to take the second set, 7-6 and clinch the victory with a 1-0(8) win in the third and final set.
“Nott drew a tough first round match but he came back and got a victory in the consolation tournament and I’m pleased with how he played overall,” Cox said.
The Razorbacks swing back into action Saturday morning when Hogan and Strode face their toughest competition yet in a match against the third seed, Eduardo Salas and Roman Stoisavljevic from New Mexico State, ranked 30th in the nation. Following his doubles match, Strode will play Marc Bruche of Baylor at 9:15 a.m. while Nott continues his bid for the consolation tournament title at 10:45 a.m. against Rice’s Sam Garfoth-Bies.
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