JOPLIN, Mo. — Former University of Arkansas men’s tennis star Blake Strode advanced to the finals of just his third International Tennis Federation tournament on Saturday since joining the professional circuit, defeating No. 6-seed Matej Bocko, 6-2, 6-4, in Joplin, Mo.
Earlier this month, Strode beat Bocko in Pittsburgh, Penn. in the semifinals of another ITF event before falling in the finals.
“It’s great to see Blake succeeding at the professional level already,” head Razorback coach Robert Cox said. “He’s such a great ambassador for Razorback tennis and all of us at Arkansas are so proud of him.”
Sunday’s finals will pit Strode against a familiar foe as he is scheduled to play the winner of the Saturday’s second semifinal match between former Tulsa standout Arnau Brugues, the No. 5 seed in Joplin, and former LSU Tiger Michael Venus.
Strode faced Brugues at the ITA All-American last October, beating the then-ranked No. 6 Brugues in straight sets. Then-ranked No. 20, Venus eliminated Strode in the following round at the All-American in three sets.
In their last meeting, Strode led Venus, who had moved up to No. 7 in the country, during the Razorbacks regular season dual match against the Tigers. The match was suspended when LSU clinched the team victory.
On Sunday, Strode is scheduled to face off against the Brugues/Venus winner at noon.
For more information about Arkansas men’s tennis, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.