FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.- The spotlight continued to rise on former University of Arkansas Razorback standout Blake Strode Tuesday as he stepped on the courts in his first Grand Slam appearanceat the 2009 US Open Qualifier.
“Blake continues to prove how much talent he possesses.” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said. “He is off to a fantastic start to his professional career.”
Strode graduated from Arkansas in May and joined the USTA Training Program. Since joining the professional circuit, Strode has competed in three International Tennis Federation Futurestournaments and one Challenger tournament before being awarded a chance to play for a spot in the main draw at the US Open. He was one of nine American men to receive a qualifying wildcard.
In the opening round, Strode faced the No. 26-seed, No. 153 Alexandre Sidorenko of France. Sidorenko, who played in the 2007 and 2009 French Opens, overpowered Strode from the start of thematch, eliminating the former Hog in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.
“Although he had a bad day, I am confident that Blake will continue to elevate his game and look to a bright future,” Cox said.
Over the course of his stellar summer performance, Strode jumped over 400 spots in the ATP rankings, claimed his first ITF Futures title and posted a 12-5 record since joining the procircuit.
“We are so proud of Blake.” Cox said. ”This is a nice forecast of what is to come.”
Strode will be honored at the U.S. Open’s Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Saturday, August 29 as the 2009 national recipient of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.
For more information about Arkansas men’s tennis, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.