Strode into NCAA Championship round of 32

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – University of Arkansas men’s tennis standout, Blake Strode, advanced to the NCAA Singles Championship round of 32 Wednesday with a straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, win over Harvard’s Chris Clayton. The win is the 94th of Strode’s career, tying him for the fifth-most all-time singles wins in Razorback history.

“Blake played really solid tennis today,” head Razorback coach Robert Cox said. “He came to the tournament well prepared and is off to a good start.”

In the first set Strode (23-11), the tournament’s No. 15 seed, got to Clayton (20-11) early, breaking the serve of the Ivy League’s Player of the Year to go up 3-1. Clayton retaliated immediately, breaking the Hog’s serve to get back on serve but Strode pushed back, earning his second break of the set and taking a 4-2 lead. After holding his own serve in the following game, Strode broke Clayton for a third time to take the first set.

In the second set, although each player had opportunity to break his opponent’s serve, neither was able to secure a break until Strode took advantage at 3-2, going up a break for a 4-2 advantage. As he had in the first set, the Razorback broke Clayton two games later to take the second set and the match.

“Everyone here at the tournament is very good and Blake will have to play his very best tennis to continue to advance,” Cox said.

On Thursday, Strode will play Fresno State’s Rudolf Siwy (25-12), who defeated Virginia’s Michael Shabaz Wednesday, for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. The two have never played each other although Arkansas and Fresno State played each other in dual action in 2007 and 2008. In both those matches, Siwy defeated former Hog Colin Mascall. Thursday’s match is set for 1:30 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the Texas A&M campus.

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