Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jesse Witten, June 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:03 - Recruiting

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Partial Transcript: Okay, we're here today with Jesse Witten and, uh, you know, arguably, one of the greatest players in college tennis history for that four-year period that, that you played.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses the recruiting process and how he procrastinated making a decision.

Keywords: College tennis; Parents; Procrastination; Recruiting; Sisters

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; Scholarships; Tennis; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

00:05:37 - Freshman year indoor season

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Partial Transcript: You're--now we're, now you're at school, you know, you're, you're starting school.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his freshman year, including tournaments he played in, and the indoor season.

Keywords: All-American; Freshman year; Grand slams; Indoor seasons; University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Subjects: Athletes; College freshmen; College sports.; Tennis; Tennis courts; Tennis players; University of California, Los Angeles

00:13:23 - Freshman year SEC play

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Partial Transcript: But, we then go into the SEC season.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses SEC play during his freshman year, including some tough losses and losing a player to an injury.

Keywords: Auburn University; Baylor University; Boeker, Matias; Handoyo, Peter; Indoor tennis; Injuries; Matias Boeker; Mississippi State University; Ole Miss; Peter Handoyo; Rivalries; Southeastern Conference (SEC); University of Alabama; University of Florida; University of Georgia; University of Mississippi; University of South Carolina; University of Tennessee

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; Southeastern Conference; Sports injuries; Sports rivalries.; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

00:22:05 - Freshman year SEC tournament

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Partial Transcript: You know, so, at this point in time, you know, this is the end of your, the end of the regular season your freshman year.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his playing style during his freshman year. Witten also talks about his freshman year SEC tournament.

Keywords: Defense; Forehand; Freshman year; Ole Miss; SEC tournaments; Southeastern Conference (SEC)

Subjects: Athletes; Auburn University; College freshmen; College sports.; Mississippi State University; Southeastern Conference; Tennis players; University of Kentucky; University of Mississippi

00:26:41 - Freshman year NCAA tournament

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Partial Transcript: Because of the win over Ole Miss, we're now seeded ninth in the NCAAs, and we get to host.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses the NCAA tournament his freshman year and the team's eventual loss to Tennessee in the Elite Eight.

Keywords: Bobby Reynolds; Duke University; Handoyo, Peter; Murray State University; NCAA tournament; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Peter Handoyo; Reynolds, Bobby; University of Tennessee; Vanderbilt University

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; Tennis--Doubles; University of Kentucky

00:36:00 - Freshman year NCAA singles

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Partial Transcript: Well now you go into the NCAA singles.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses the NCAA singles championship his freshman year. Witten also talks about the various awards he got for his freshman year.

Keywords: All-American; All-SEC; Boeker, Matias; Matias Boeker; NCAA singles; NCAA tennis rookie of the year; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); SEC freshman of the year; Southeastern Conference (SEC); Split sets

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Southeastern Conference; Tennis players; Tennis--Singles; University of Kentucky

00:46:03 - Sophomore year season and SEC tournament

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Partial Transcript: Well we come back now, we go into your sophomore year.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his sophomore year season, including a loss in his first tournament of the year and several team losses during the year. Witten also discusses the SEC tournament that year.

Keywords: Ole Miss; Rankings; SEC tournament; Sophomore year; Southeastern Conference (SEC); Stanford University; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); University of Florida; University of Georgia; University of Minnesota; University of Mississippi

Subjects: Athletes; College sophomores; College sports.; Southeastern Conference; Tennis players; Tennis--tournaments; University of Kentucky

00:50:38 - Sophomore year NCAA tournament

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Partial Transcript: And then at the NCAAs again we're top 15 in the country so we're hosting in Lexington and, uh, you know, we win our first round and then we lose a tight one to Ohio State.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his sophomore year NCAA tournament and their tough loss to Ohio State University in the second round.

Keywords: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Ohio State University (OSU)

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

00:52:34 - Sophomore year NCAA individuals

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Partial Transcript: So now we go to, to the NCAA individuals again and first round you beat, you beat Jeremy Wurtzman who was a great player, you know, had a lot of success.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses the NCAA individuals championship and his lack of interest in competing without his team. Witten also discusses being named All-SEC and All-American.

Keywords: All-American; All-SEC; NCAA singles; NCAA tennis singles; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

00:54:27 - Junior year season

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Partial Transcript: So now we go into your junior year.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his junior year season, including some good wins and a tough match against Ole Miss in which one of the players stalled for a long time.

Keywords: Baylor University; Benedikt Dorsch; Buck, Shannon; Dorsch, Benedikt; Ole Miss; Shannon Buck; Spring season; University of Mississippi

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

01:02:17 - Junior year NCAA tournament

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Partial Transcript: Well we go to the NC--the SEC tournament again.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his junior year NCAA tournament and his experience playing doubles with Rahim Esmail.

Keywords: All-American; All-SEC; Esmail, Rahim; NCAA tournaments; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Rahim Esmail; Texas Christian University (TCU)

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; Tennis--Doubles; University of Kentucky

01:07:13 - Senior year season and doubles

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Partial Transcript: So now you're moving into your senior season coming off a junior year in which you were just basically, uh, impossible to beat once you got into the spring and got going.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his senior year season, including playing doubles with Tigran Martirosyan.

Keywords: All-American doubles; Baylor University; Martirosyan, Tigran; NCAA tournament; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); National Indoors; Region Indoors; Tigran Martirosyan; University of Georgia

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; Tennis--Doubles; University of Kentucky

01:18:35 - Senior year NCAA tournament

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Partial Transcript: Well we, so, now we're going into the NCAAs your senior year.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his senior year NCAA tournament and their close loss to Butler University.

Keywords: Butler University; Martirosyan, Tigran; NCAA tournament; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Senior year; Tigran Martirosyan

Subjects: Athletes; College seniors; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

01:19:47 - Senior year NCAA singles

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Partial Transcript: But now we're gonna go to the NC--NCAA individual tournament.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his senior year NCAA singles tournament, ending with a tough loss to Jonathan Chu of Harvard.

Keywords: Chu, Jonathan; Harvard University; Jonathan Chu; NCAA singles tournament; NCAA tournament; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

01:22:02 - CATSPY awards and all-American

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Partial Transcript: Well you concluded the year, your senior year, you were ranked number three in the final rankings, national rankings.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses winning UK Male Student Athlete of the Year at the CATSPY awards. Witten also talks about being a four-time All-American.

Keywords: All-American singles; CATSPY awards; Holmes, J.B.; J.B. Holmes; SEC player of the year; UK male student athlete of the year

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

01:24:45 - Best moment and hall of fame

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Partial Transcript: So looking back, you know what--you know as you reflect back, what, what was your best moment as a Wildcat?

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his best moment at the University of Kentucky, as well as his induction into the UK athletic hall of fame.

Keywords: Brothers; Siblings; Sisters; UK Athletic Hall of Fame; Wildcats

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; Tennis; Tennis players; University of Kentucky

01:27:01 - U.S. Open

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Partial Transcript: Well let's, let's look briefly at your pro career.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his professional tennis career, including playing in the US Open tennis tournament.

Keywords: Andreev, Igor; Gonzalez, Maximo; Grand slam; Igor Andreev; John McEnroe; Maximo Gonzalez; McEnroe, John; Professional tennis; Teammates; United States Tennis Association (USTA)

Subjects: Athletes; College sports.; McEnroe, John, 1959-; Tennis; Tennis players; U.S. Open (Tennis tournament); United States Tennis Association; University of Kentucky

01:33:24 - Playing Novak Djokovic

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Partial Transcript: Now this is the Djokovic match.

Segment Synopsis: Witten discusses his match against Novak Djokovic. Witten also discusses his appearance on ESPN and his friends' support during the tournament.

Keywords: ESPN; Kentucky tennis; Novak Djokovic; US Open

Subjects: Athletes; Djokovic, Novak; ESPN (Television network); Tennis; Tennis players; U.S. Open (Tennis tournament); University of Kentucky