Witten Wins First Round At Australian Open Qualifying

Jan. 13, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky men’s tennis star Jesse Witten won his first round qualifying match at the 2010 Australian Open Men’s Qualifying on Tuesday. 

Witten, who is fresh off an impressive run in the U.S. Open this summer, defeated No. 311 Jose Checa-Calvo of Spain in the first round, 6-3, 6-2. Ranked 163rd in the ATP rankings and seeded No. 28 in the qualifying rounds, Witten had two aces in the match and posted a first-serve winning percentage of 74 percent.

Witten will continue his march towards qualifying for the Australian Open on Friday when he faces No. 288 Conor Niland of Ireland. Niland defeated No. 293 Henri Kontinen of Finland, 6-4, 6-4. Niland is not seeded in the qualifying rounds.

Only 128 players will play in the Australian Open main draw, with the tournament schedule to start on Monday, Jan. 18. Of the 128 players selected, 104 will be by direct entries based on rankings, 16 qualifiers and eight wild cards. Witten only needs to win two more qualifying matches to claim one of the qualifying spots.

A native of Naples, Fla., Witten recently had a very successful run in the U.S Open where he advanced to the third round of the tournament, defeating several high-ranked players along the way. It was the farthest Witten had advanced in a Grand Slam in his career. Witten had a decorative career as a Wildcat, making it the NCAA Singles Finals his freshman season. The 2005 SEC Player of the Year became only the 11th four-time men’s singles All-American. Witten’s awards and honors at UK include being named a 2005 doubles All-American, 2002 SEC Freshman of the Year and a four-time All-SEC selection.

Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the latest information on Jesse Witten and the Kentucky men’s tennis team’s start to the 2010 season at the SEC Coaches’ Indoor tournament on Friday.