A half-hour before he was supposed to play in a national tennis tournament final, top-ranked Jesse Witten was nowhere to be found. But that was only because no one looked in the game room.
Witten, of Naples, Fla., was warming up by playing -- and winning -- Ping-Pong and video golf.
"I've got some game in Ping-Pong, too," said Witten, who continued his winning ways on the tennis court by defeating 22nd-seeded Jeff Kazarian, 6-2, 6-2, to win the USTA boys 16-and-under clay-court championships at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville.
Witten, the tournament's top seed, did not lose a set during his seven matches in the event and improved his overall record in the 16-and-under age group to 47-1. However, he said: "This is my first year winning anything."
Witten's game was too much for Kazarian. Every time Kazarian came to the net, Witten beat him with a passing shot. Every time Kazarian tried to match him in groundstrokes, Witten seemed to hit a winner down the line. Witten had 14 winners in the second set alone, and some seemed impossible to repeat. After one of them, Kazarian yelled in disbelief: "No way!"
"I had nothing to lose out there," Kazarian said after the match. "He didn't let me into the match, and I couldn't get into a groove. Every short ball I hit he pounded."
Kazarian, from Rolling Hills, Calif., had to defeat only one seeded player to reach the final -- No. 31 Prakash Amritraj. Witten defeated 17th-seeded Joseph Kao on Thursday and 10th-seeded Sam Warburg in Saturday's semifinal.
Along with the victory, Witten got his name inscribed on the same silver cup that bears the names of John McEnroe and Paul Goldstein, both former winners of this event.
After the match, Witten was bombarded by parents wanting to get a picture of their kids with him and teenage girls looking for autographed tennis balls.
Notes: Warburg defeated unseeded Kean Feeder in the third-place match, 6-4, 6-3. Rajeev Ram and Jonathan Stokke won the doubles championship, defeating Amritraj and K.C. Corkery, 6-7 (14-12), 7-5, 6-2.