Freshman Writes UK History: Advances to NCAA Championship Match
May 26, 2002
Jesse Witten, a freshman phenomenon on the University of Kentucky men's tennis team, will make a place for himself in UK tennis history by becoming the second Wildcat to ever compete in the NCAA Singles Championship title match. Witten, ranked sixth in the country, advances after a semifinal victory over Ryan Haviland of Stanford on Sunday, May 26 in College Station, Texas. He will face fellow Southeastern Conference star and defending champion, Matias Boeker of Georgia on Monday, May 27 at 4 p.m. central time.
Against Haviland, Witten tallied a strong 6-4 victory in the opening set before a long battle in the second. Witten took a 3-2 lead but Haviland rallied back to take straight games and a 4-3 advantage. In a back-and-forth point advantage at 5-5, Haviland pulled ahead for the 7-5 set victory. Much of the same intensity took place early in the third set until Witten energized and dominated the set, 6-1, for the win.
Haviland is the second Stanford athlete knocked out of the tournament by Witten, while Boeker also tallied a win over Stanford by defeating David Martin, 6-4,6-4. Witten, the tournament's fourth seed, and top-seeded Boeker faced off at the No. 1 singles spot on March 3, during the regular dual-match season. Witten dropped the match in a third set tiebreak and will look for a different outcome in the championship match.
"Throughout the tournament, I never really thought about where I was at in it," Witten said, "but I am relieved that I made it this far. I had a tough match today and really had to mentally stay in it and I look for nothing but the same kind of intensity tomorrow. I guess you are not really the best until you win it all and that's my goal."
Championship action can be followed by live scoring at www.aggieathletics.com.