Jesse Witten Rolls Through Qualifying, Advances to Wimbledon

June 17, 2010

ROEHAMPTON, England -- A month after qualifying for the French Open, former University of Kentucky men’s tennis star Jesse Witten has posted three impressive wins, including a victory over No. 127 Go Soeda on Thursday, to qualify for The Championships at Wimbledon. The Championships at Wimbledon are set to begin June 21 through July 4.

Witten, a native of Naples, Fla., took control of the match early against Soeda, the 15th overall seed in the qualifying event. The UK great won the first two sets 6-2, 6-2 before falling in the third set 6-2 and rallying back in third set for a 6-4 win to claim the match and secure a spot in his first career Wimbledon.

Witten and Soeda had played once before in a qualifier with Witten, defeating the Japanese native 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of qualifying for the 2009 US Open.  

Witten, who will receive one of only 16 qualifying spots to Wimbledon out of 128 players, has now qualified for four Grand Slams in his career: two US Opens, one French Open and one Wimbledon. Witten’s best finish at a Grand Slam came in the 2009 US Open when he made a memorable run to the third round, defeating two top-100 players along the way.

The UK great played solid tennis in the second round, winning the first set 6-2 and then holding on a fierce rally in the second set by Jones to claim the 7-6 (8-6) win.

Witten, currently ranked No. 170 in the ATP Rankings, posted an impressive win in the first round, defeating No. 266 Bobby Reynolds. Witten fell behind early in the match, dropping the first set 7-5 to Reynolds, who has been ranked as high as No. 63 in the world. Witten would respond in the final two sets to post the win with a 6-3 win in the second set and a dominating 6-1 win in the third set.

The former Wildcat is fresh off qualifying for the French Open in May where he defeated then-No. 107 Marcos Daniel of Brazil 7-6, (7-2), 4-6, 17-15 in a three-hour-47-minute marathon. Witten fell in the opening round of the French Open to No. 29 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 3-6, 4-6, 3-6.

Witten grew into an iconic tennis figure at Kentucky during his college days (2002-05), becoming only the 11th four-time men's singles All-American in NCAA history. Witten 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.