FLUSHING, N.Y. – Former Arkansas All-American Blake Strode is two wins away from a spot in the main draw of the U.S. Open.
The Bodenhamer Fellow and UA honors graduate picked up the first of three wins needed in the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament on Thursday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Strode dropped the first set to Great Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic, 6-3. Strode was up 5-2 in the second set when Bogdanovic, who is ranked No. 215 in the world, was forced to retire. Strode won 44 points for the match and had four aces.
The 2009 Razorback All-American advances to the second round on Friday to face Ivan Dodig of Croatia, who beat Juan Pablo Brzezicki, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Strode is one of 128 men and 128 women participating in the qualifying tournament.
The final 16 in each tournament advance to the main draw with the first round beginning on Monday.
He won two tournaments and nine matches to win the first U.S. Open National Playoffs and a spot in the qualifying tournament. 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 for head coach Robert Cox.