Former UK Tennis Star Jesse Witten to Compete in French Open Monday

May 23, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Former University of Kentucky men's tennis star Jesse Witten will compete in first-round action of the French Open against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, Monday at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France at 11 a.m. CET (5 a.m. EST). The lone tennis Grand Slam event played on a clay surface began Sunday.

Witten, listed No. 184 according to ATP rankings, earned his way into the prestigious tournament last week when he won three qualifying matches. The Naples, Fla., native won a three-hour-47-minute marathon against Marcos Daniel of Brazil 7-6, (7-2), 4-6, 17-15 on Tuesday to start his run. Daniel was ranked 107th in the world. A day later, Witten posted a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Australia's John Millman. Witten punched his qualifying ticket Friday when he registered a 7-5, 6-2 win over Pavol Cervenak of Slovakia.

Witten will be making his first appearance at the French Open. He has participated twice in the singles tournament at the US Open (2006 and 2009) with a third-round finish in 2009. He also took part in the US Open doubles tournament in 2006.

Witten's first-round opponent Monday in Paris, Baghdatis, holds a No. 29 singles ranking and has played in five previous French Opens, including a fourth-round finish in 2007.

Witten grew into an iconic tennis figure at Kentucky during his college days (2002-2005), becoming only the 11th four-time men's singles All-American in NCAA history. The native of Naples, Fla., was named the 2005 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and advanced to the championship match of the 2005 NCAA Singles Championship. As a newcomer in 2002, Witten was named SEC Freshman of the Year, helping the Wildcats to a 23-10 mark and eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.