FLUSHING, N.Y. – Almost a month after winning the U.S. Open National Playoffs in Atlanta, former University of Arkansas All-American Blake Strode gets his reward with a spot in the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament in Flushing, N.Y., at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Strode is one of 128 men and 128 women participating in the qualifying tournament, which runs Tuesday through Friday. Half of the first-round matches are on Tuesday and half are on Wednesday. Strode plays on Wednesday against Great Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic, who is ranked No. 215 in the world. If he wins, he plays the winner between Jean Pablo Brzezicki and Ivan Dodig on Thursday.
There is no set start time for his match. As earlier matches are completed, new matches begin.
The final 16 in each tournament advance to the main draw with the first round beginning on Monday, Aug. 30.
Strode, who enrolled at Arkansas on a Bodenhamer Fellowship and maintained the Fellowship throughout his career while earning two degrees and graduating with honors, was an All-American in 2009 after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA individual championship.
He won two tournaments and nine matches to win the first 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.
If Strode, who was 27-12 as a senior at Arkansas and 96-46 for his career for head coach Robert Cox, wins three matches, he earns one of the 16 spots in the main draw.
The qualifying tournament is not being televised. Next week’s main tournament is being covered by both ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel.