GODFREY – St. Louisan Blake Strode is among the 18 qualifiers still in the race for the main draw of the 17th Annual Lewis and Clark Community College Men’s Pro Tennis Classic, a USTA Men’s Pro Circuit Future’s event.
Strode defeated American Hunter Reese 7-6(5), 7-5 in a match that lasted close to three hours Saturday. His win secured his place in the final round of qualifying play on Monday where he will face either Carter Lin or Mac Styslinger.
“It feels good to win and move forward,” Strode said. “He (Reese) was a very competitive opponent. I think getting the win that first set after such a long battle helped me mentally.”
Reese is an ITA All American from the University of Tennessee, who won the NCAA doubles championship this spring with partner Mikelis Libietis.
Strode said he hasn’t played a tournament in about two years since he gained admitted into Harvard Law School. He grew up playing tennis at the Dwight Davis Memorial Tennis Complex in St. Louis. After graduating valedictorian from Pattonville High School, he played tennis for the University of Arkansas for four years where he was an All American. Strode then spent nearly three years on the pro circuit and played in the 2010 US Open qualifier after winning the US Open National Playoffs.
In another long competitive match Saturday, No. 1 Eduardo Nava prevailed against American Sam Sweeney 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-2. He will play Srikar Alla, of India at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
“He was a good opponent and I worked hard for the win,” Nava said. “I think holding serve in the third set and keeping my focus by playing a point at a time helped me through.”
American Strong Kirchheimer defeated Felix Corwin 7-6(11) 6-4 to earn a spot in the final qualifying round, and will play either Canadian Asad Siyyid or American Maxx Lipman on Monday.
No. 3 Ronnie Schneider posted a 6-3, 6-3 win against Dominic Cotrone and advances to round three of qualifying. He faces Toshiki Matsuya, of Japan, who will play for the University of Illinois in the fall.
“It is great to be back in this tournament,” Schneider said. “I’m lucky to have a host family, the Dossos, again this year. It makes a big difference to have their support and encouragement. They are a wonderful family and they make me feel right at home here.”
Qualifying play continues Sunday at 9 a.m. with all matches at Lewis and Clark. The event is free and open to the public.