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Strode Wins First Pro Tournament

Courtesy: USTA

Former top USTA Missouri Valley junior Blake Strode captured the championship at the 2009 Millennium Tennis Club $10,000 Men's Futures in Joplin, Mo., winning the event with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Arnau Brugues.

Playing in just his third ITF event, the unseeded Strode advanced to the finals after defeating No. 6-seeded Matej Brecko by a 6-2, 6-4 tally in the semifinals.

In the final match, Strode faced off against Brugues, a Tulsa University graduate who was named 2009 the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Senior Player of the Year. After splitting the first two games of the first set, Strode ripped off the next five games to claim the first set. Strode then cruised to a 6-3 second-set victory to nail down his first professional win.

Strode is a St. Louis native who starred at the University of Arkansas, graduating in May of 2009. He was honored as the Southeastern Conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He also will attend the U.S. Open later this summer, where he will be honored at the national recipient of the prestigious ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship.

Strode has been accepted to Harvard Law School and has stated that, before enrolling, he plans to play a year of professional tennis to see how successful he can be.

If his first few tournaments are any indications, Harvard may just have to wait.