Kentucky senior Jesse Witten played his final match as a Wildcat Saturday, suffering a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6) defeat to Harvard's 32nd-ranked Jonathan Chu in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men's Singles Championships at Texas A&M's Mitchell Tennis Center. Chu will go on to face Baylor's top-seeded Benedikt Dorsch in Sunday's semifinals.
Kentucky's only five-time tennis All-American (four singles, one doubles) and one of 11 four-time men's singles All-Americans in the history of collegiate tennis, Witten's Kentucky career comes to a close at 139-44 (.760). The SEC Player of the Year and ITA Southeast Region Senior Player of the Year ends his senior season with an incredible 44-6 singles record.
After dropping the first set, 6-4, Witten broke Chu in the seventh game of the second set for a 4-3 lead. Witten served out the set to win, 6-4 and force a decisive third set. Witten broke Chu early on in the final set, but Chu returned the break at 4-3 to even the set at four games apiece. Chu held serve for a 5-4 lead, though Witten held in the next game to even the set at five. Chu and Witten each held service once more as the set progressed to a tiebreaker. Witten saved a match point in the tiebreak to even the score at six points apiece, but Chu took the next point and converted the second match point to earn a spot in the semifinals.
With his collegiate eligibility expired, Witten is expected to begin a professional career this summer. The Naples, Fla., native enjoyed a productive summer of 2004 as an amateur on the pro circuit, making the finals of Lexington's Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships, where he fell to old nemesis Matias Boeker, a former two-time NCAA singles champion at Georgia. Prior to that event, Witten had won a USTA futures tournament in Joplin, Mo., and was a finalist at a similar event in Peoria, Ill.
NCAA Men's Tennis Championships – College Station, Texas
No. 32 Jonathan Chu (Harvard) def. (3) Jesse Witten (UK) – 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6)
Witten loses in NCAA Quarterfinals
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