FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Three Razorback tennis players were rewarded for their outstanding fall seasons when the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released its first national rankings of 2006. Freshman Blake Strode was listed at No. 19, senior Matt Roberts was close behind at No. 24 and senior Rohan Gajjar was No. 100.
“These rankings are a reflection of what Blake, Matt and Rohan did over the fall,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said. “They all had solid campaigns. Rankings are good, but now we need to go into the spring with their experience.”
Strode, a native of St. Louis, Mo., is the nation’s third-highest ranked freshman. Stanford’s Matt Bruch is No. 4 and Radford’s Martin Sayer is No. 17. Strode put together a fantastic fall campaign, defeating three ranked opponents and taking the top flight title at the South Carolina Invitational. He concluded the season with an 8-2 record in singles.
In doubles he partnered with fellow freshman Austin King and Roberts, posting an 8-1 overall record. He and King were perfect at the Navy Invitational, while he and Roberts advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Central Region Championships.
Roberts was ranked 73rd by the ITA coming into the fall, but finished with a 9-3 record and claimed the championships of the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational, propelling him into the top 25. At ASU he defeated 48th-ranked Chris Biro of Arizona State in the semifinals, before knocking off teammate, and 31st-ranked, senior Rohan Gajjar to win the title.
For the second straight year, he advanced through the qualifying draw at the ITA All-American Championships. In the main draw, he defeated 32nd-ranked Joseph Jung of Alabama in straight sets before falling to No. 3 Ben Kohlleffel of UCLA. In doubles, he teamed with both Gajjar and Strode to post a 6-1 doubles record. He and Gajjar claimed the Arizona State Invitational, while he and Strode advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Central Region Championships.
Gajjar’s No. 100 listing is his 12th-consecutive national ranking as a Razorback. He finished the fall with a record of 5-3 and made a trip to the finals of the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational where he was defeated by teammate Roberts. He opened the fall campaign at the ITA All-American Championships, where he defeated 89th-ranked Eric Langenkamp of Notre Dame in straight sets. In doubles he and Roberts teamed to win the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, going 3-0, before finishing with an overall record of 4-2.
The Hogs will see their first action of the spring season during the Alumni Tournament on Jan. 14. They will go up against 30 former Arkansas players, including five Razorbacks that were ranked No. 1 during their days in Fayetteville. Play will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center. The public is welcome to attend and admission is free.