FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Razorback All-American Blake Strode was named to the 2009 United States Tennis Association (USTA) Summer Collegiate Team, it was announced Thursday by the USTA and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). The 24-member group is comprised of the nation’s top collegiate players, split evenly among a men’s and women’s team.
“This is a great honor and opportunity for Blake to participate in the USTA training program,” Razorback head coach Robert Cox said. “In addition to everything he’s done at Arkansas, this is another good opportunity for Blake as he transitions from his collegiate career to the professional ranks. He’s such a talented player and good person so I’m excited the USTA recognized Blake as one of the top collegiate players in the nation. Blake, and all the players, will be coached by the best in the country, so I have no doubt he’ll make strides and continue to make the University of Arkansas proud.”
Strode is one of three men’s players from the Southeastern Conference to earn a spot in the elite training program. He is joined by 2009 NCAA Champion Devin Britton of Ole Miss and 2009 SEC Player of the Year Michael Venus of LSU. The program began in 1996 and affords the group an opportunity to compete on the USTA Pro Circuit, in addition to an invitation to the Pro Tour Transition camp held by USTA Player Development. The men’s camp will be held June 20-23 in Boca Raton, Fla.
The top six American players in the season-ending ITA national singles rankings are eligible for selection, while an additional three spots are held for the highest-ranking American singles and doubles team finisher at the NCAA Championships. The remaining players on each team are selected by a panel that includes the USTA Player Development staff, USTA national coaches, ITA staff and current collegiate coaches. Eighteen of the 24 players named to this year’s team earned All-American status this past season.
Strode, a three-time All-SEC selection and two-time SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year, finished the season ranked No. 13 in the final poll released by the ITA, tying a career high ranking. He became the third player in Arkansas men’s tennis history to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, losing to eventual champion Britton. With 97 singles victories as a Razorback, Strode finished his career with the fifth-most wins in program history.
Current professional tennis players who have participated in the USTA Summer Collegiate Team program include James Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan, Audra Cohen, Amer Delic, Laura Granville, John Isner, Jesse Levine, Todd Paul, Sam Warburg and Jesse Witten. For more information, visit the Player Development page at www.usta.com.