Ex-Tennis Pro Witsken Dies of Brain Cancer

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From Staff, Wire Reports

Former professional tennis player Todd Witsken, 34, a three-time All-American at USC, died of brain cancer Monday in Zionsville, Ind., 21 months after surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his brain.

Witsken, who won more than $1.4 million on the ATP tour, broke onto the national scene in 1986 when he upset Jimmy Connors in the third round of the U.S. Open.

He was ranked as high as fourth in the world in 1989 and won 11 doubles titles, including the Italian Open in 1988 and the Stockholm Open in 1989, with former USC partner Jorge Lozano.


Said his USC coach, Dick Leach: “In my 19 years at SC, he was one of the top three most talented players, a tenacious competitor who had great speed on the court.

“I saw him last summer at the national junior championships. I knew he was sick, and I could see he knew what was happening, but he seemed to me to be at full peace.”

P.A. Nilhagen, who coached Witsken as a youngster, called him “the smartest tennis player I’ve ever been around as a coach.”

“He had a real way of understanding how to prepare for a match mentally and went in with a real game plan,” he said.

“He didn’t have the big shots, but he had a great mind. He had a good understanding how to get the most out of his own game.”

Witsken became director of the Indianapolis Tennis Center after his retirement from the pro tour in 1993.


Services for Witsken will be held today in Carmel, Ind. He is survived by his wife, Lisa, and four children.