Former UK All-American Witten Qualifies for U.S. Open Main Draw

Aug. 29, 2009

NEW YORK - After battling three opponents and weather delays, former Kentucky men's tennis All-American Jesse Witten secured his second entry into the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament by knocking off Austria's Alexander Peya 6-4, 6-3 at the 2009 U.S. Open qualifying tourney in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on Saturday.

Witten will face No. 29 Igor Andreev of Russia in a first-round match early next week on the hard courts for the second time in his career. In 2006, Witten qualified for his first U.S. Open main draw but fell in five sets to fellow American Paul Goldstein in the first round.

The former Wildcat star is bracketed in the top half of the draw in the second quarter featuring fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Defending champion Roger Federer, headlining the top half, will defend his 2008 U.S. Open title beginning Monday as the world's top-ranked player.

Currently ranked No. 270 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings, Witten beat No. 259 Peya in straight sets in the final round of qualifying. Sixteen players gain entry into the main draw each year after winning three straight qualifying matches in the week leading up to main draw action.

Witten won his second-round U.S. Open qualifying match Thursday afternoon against No. 144 Stephane Bohli of Switzerland, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the final round. Before Witten knocked off the third-ranked Swiss player in the ATP rankings, he dispatched the second-ranked Japanese man on tour. Witten overwhelmed Go Saeda 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of qualifying Wednesday.

The 2005 UK graduate has been busy building his post-collegiate tennis career over the past few years. In 2008, Witten rose as high as 217 in the world. He started off 2007 with his highest career ranking of 171 in January. Witten followed that up in July of that year when he was named the World Team Tennis (WTT) Male Rookie of the Year during the league's championship weekend.

At Kentucky, Witten earned All-America honors five times and was named the 2005 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. As a freshman in 2002, Witten advanced to the finals of the NCAA Singles Championships. The following season Witten reigned as the nation's top player for four months.

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