FLUSHING, N.Y. – Former Arkansas All-American Blake Strode has been eliminated from the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament.
Over the last three months, the University of Arkansas honors graduate and former Bodenhamer Fellow won 10 matches and two tournaments to advance to the second round of the qualifier. With three wins in the qualifier, he would have earned a spot in Monday’s first round of the main draw.
On Friday, he was eliminated with a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Ivan Dodig of Croatia. Dodig is ranked No. 148 in the world. Strode trailed 5-3 in the second and rallied to tie the set 5-5, but Dodig broke Strode’s serve and held his own to get the win. Strode won 80 points and had one ace. Dodig had seven aces and won 93 points.
In his first-round match on Thursday, Strode, who was a 2009 Al-American for the Razorbacks and head coach Robert Cox, advanced with a win over Great Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic. Strode dropped the first set, 6-3, and was up 5-2 in the second when Bogdanovic retired. Bogdanovic was ranked No. 215 in the world. Strode won 44 points and had four aces in the match.
Strode was one of 128 men participating in the qualifying tournament. The final 16 advance to the main draw.
He earned a spot in the qualifying tournament by winning two tournaments and nine matches to win the first ever U.S. Open National Playoffs. After winning the U.S. Open National Playoff Southwest Section in Surprise, Ariz., in June, he and 15 other sectional winners advanced to the national playoffs in Atlanta. He won that tournament by defeating Cecil Mamitt, who was once ranked as high as No. 70 in the world, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1), in the finals.
Strode was 27-12 as a senior at Arkansas in 2009 and 96-46 in his career. He reached the semifinals of the NCAA individual championship to earn All-American honors. He has been accepted to Harvard Law School, but has deferred entrance while pursuing a professional career.
Strode enrolled at Arkansas on a Bodenhamer Fellowship, maintained his fellowship throughout his career, earned a double major in international economics and Spanish, and was an honors graduate with a 3.972 grade point average.