COLLEGE STATION, Texas. – University of Arkansas senior Blake Strode will face Harvard University’s Chris Clayton in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championships, the NCAA announced today.
Captains of their respective teams, the No. 15-seed Strode (22-11) and Clayton (20-10) have never played each other. While leading different lives on the court, Strode plays in the men’s tennis powerhouse Southeastern Conference and is ranked No. 15 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association while Clayton competes in the Ivy League and is ranked No. 79, the two are equally revered in their regions.
Both Strode and Clayton are recipients of the regional ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship and ITA/Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship awards. As regional winners, the two are up against each other for each national award. Other recognition for the two this season include Strode’s SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Salute to Excellence honors and Clayton’s Ivy League Player of the Year and 2009 Northeast Region Farnsworth/ITA Senior Player of the Year honors.
Equals in the brainpower department, Strode, the runner up for the 2009 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, has been accepted to Harvard Law School just as Clayton is graduating from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Strode has deferred enrollment at Harvard for a year to pursue a professional tennis career.
This year marks Strode’s second trip to the NCAA Singles Championships. He advanced to the round of 32 as a sophomore, the same year he and doubles partner Colin Mascall qualified for the NCAA Doubles Championship.
The first round match between Strode and Clayton is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday May 20 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the Texas A&M campus. For complete men’s tennis coverage, log on to www.ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Live video and results from the NCAA Men’s Singles Championshipare available at http://www.aggieathletics.com/ncaa2009/tennis/stats.html