FAYETTEVILLE – Former University of Arkansas tennis All-American Blake Strode is two victories away from advancing to the qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open in New York.
Strode won a United States Tennis Association Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Arizona and advanced with 15 other regional winners to the U.S. Open National Playoffs in Atlanta. If he wins the playoff tournament at the Atlanta Athletic Club, he earns a singles wild card entry in the 2010 U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament.
He won his first match on Thursday, 1-6, 6-3, 6-0, over Punch Maleka to advance to the round of eight.
On Friday, he beat Nikita Kryvonos, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the semifinals.
Strode earned the trip to Atlanta by winning the U.S. Open National Playoff Southwest Section in Surprise, Ariz., in June at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex. He won the 29-man tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Thomas Pecor, a 6-0, 6-0 decision over Joseph Theisen, a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Nicholas Caldwell, a 6-1, 6-0 win over Joseph Adewumi and a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Billy Pecor in the finals.
Strode was an All-American for the Razorbacks in 2009 after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Individual Championship. He was also the 2009 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A recipient of the Bodenhamer Fellowship when he enrolled at Arkansas in 2005, as a senior he was named the national recipient of the ITA/Arthur Ashe for Leadership and Sportsmanship award. He was also a finalist for both the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award and the prestigious Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship.
He went 27-12 as a senior and 98-48 for his career for head coach Robert Cox. He ranks fifth on Arkansas’ all-time singles victories list.
The St. Louis native earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Arkansas and has been accepted into Harvard Law School, but is pursuing a professional career before enrolling.
The U.S. Open begins on Aug. 24 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.