Witten to Play in US Open Qualifying on Tuesday

Aug. 23, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jesse Witten, a former University of Kentucky men’s tennis great, made a name for himself at the 2009 US Open, rolling through qualifying, defeating two top-100 players and making it to the third round for his best career finish in a Grand Slam. This year, he will be looking for more, starting with his first round qualifying match at United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Tuesday.

Witten’s first qualifying match will be against Facundo Bagnis of Argentina in the last afternoon Tuesday. Bagnis is ranked No. 248 in singles on the ATP World Tour while Witten is ranked No. 180. Witten and Bagnis have never squared off before.

If Witten advances, he will likely play the No. 2-seeded Go Soeda of Japan, a familiar foe for the former Wildcat. Witten and Soeda have faced off four times in their career, including twice this year with each player winning a match. Last year in the US Open, Witten and Soeda played in the first round of qualifying with Witten coming away victorious and marching on to his best finish in a Grand Slam.

A total of 128 players are in the three-day qualifying event, with 16 advancing to play in the main draw of the US Open, held Aug. 30-Sept. 12.

Witten is having a splendid season on the court, recently helping the New York Sportimes reach the World TeamTennis Finals. Witten was a perfect 3-0 in the playoffs for the Sportimes as he posted a men’s doubles win in the 2010 WTT Eastern Conference Championship that helped propel New York to the WTT Finals.

The former UK great qualified for Wimbledon earlier this year, where he fell in the opening round of the event 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3 to Michael Llodra of France. Witten earned one of 16 qualifying positions for Wimbledon after winning three consecutive matches. He defeated Greg Jones (6-2, 7-6 [8-6]) and Bobby Reynolds (5-7, 6-3, 6-1) before claiming a best-of-five-sets final-round victory against Soeda, 6-2, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 on June 17. Witten also qualified for the French Open in May, where he fell in the opening round to Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

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.