FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas netter Blake Strode and assistant coach Darin Phelan were honored by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association with Central Regional awards Friday. Strode received the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship, while Phelan was named the region’s ITA Assistant Coach of the Year.
Strode earned the Arthur Ashe Award which, according to the award’s description, goes to a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. In the classroom, Strode carries a 3.96 grade point average as a double major in international economics and Spanish and is a recipient of the prestigious Bodenhamer Fellowship. He was also named the Southeastern Conference Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year this season.
He is active on campus as a part of such groups as the Walton College Dean’s Student Advisory Board, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Arkansas Athletes Outreach. On the tennis court, Strode is the 76th-ranked player in the nation and led the team this season with 19 doubles wins. During his three-year career at Arkansas, Strode has totaled 71 career singles wins.
Phelan served as the assistant coach for the Razorbacks for six years which included three appearances in the NCAA Tournament and a Sweet 16 berth in 2004. This season, he helped shape an Arkansas roster that consisted of 10 underclassmen and guide the team to a 12-win season and a 3-8 record in the SEC, an important improvement for a team that won just seven matches and was winless in SEC play the year before.
Phelan began his career as a Razorback as a player for Coach Robert Cox from 1995-98. He began his coaching career as Arkansas’ volunteer assistant coach during the 2000 and 2001 seasons before being hired as the assistant coach for the Razorbacks in 2002.
Winners from each of the eight regions are finalists for the national awards which will be announced May 20. Log on to www.hogwired.com for more news about Razorback tennis.