Got Tennis
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Susan Mullane

In the finals of the U.S. Open National Playoffs–Men’s Championship on Sunday in Atlanta, number one-seeded Blake Strode defeated second seed Cecil Mamiit, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1). By winning the tournament, Strode receives a wild card into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament, held August 24-27, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., prior to the US Open. Strode, who says he is “living a dream,” played in the US Open Qualifying Tournament last year and lost 6-3, 6-1, in the first round. He is “looking forward to playing well and winning more matches than last year."

In the final set, Strode and Mamiit were on serve through 4-4 when Strode broke on a Mamiit double fault to go up 5-4. Mamiit then broke back and the players each exchanged another set of breaks to reach a tiebreak. Strode took hold of the tiebreak to win.

The number one-seeded Strode, 23, of St. Louis, deferred Harvard Law School in 2009 to pursue a professional tennis career, a move that paid off in a victory by winning the USTA Southwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament. Strode grew into tennis as a member of his local NJTL chapter in Ferguson, Mo., and developed into an All-American for the University of Arkansas. He was also a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Strode earned a wild card into the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament last year and also won his first professional title last year on the USTA Pro Circuit. He peaked to 483rd in the world this month and is currently ranked 522th in the world.

This week, 16 winners of the USTA Sectional Qualifying Tournaments held April through June competed for the coveted wild card spot during the Atlanta Tennis Championships, the first Olympus U.S. Open Series event of 2010. A total of 859 men competed in the 16 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments nationwide prior to the U.S. Open National Playoffs–Men’s Championship.

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