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Julie Ditty

tennis player

Alias: Julie Ditty Qualls
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Bio She was an American professional tennis player.
She had her WTA Tour breakthrough when she reached the semifinals of the Bell Challenge. It took her into the top 100 for the first time in her career, on November 5, 2007, at No. 91. She beat Alizé Cornet and Vania King before falling to Julia Vakulenko in three sets. In 2007, she was drafted by the Boston Lobsters of the WTT pro league.

She is an American retired tennis player. The Kentucky resident would go on to success at the high school, college and professional levels, finishing with a top WTA ranking of No. 89 in singles and No. 65 in doubles.

Before she was a high-school star at Ashland’s Russell High School, Ditty was ranked No. 1 in the country in girls’ 14s singles. She also was No. 1 in girls’ 16s doubles and 21-and-under in women’s amateur singles. She won 12 national juniors doubles championships plus another in singles. In high school, the three-time state champion was named Kentucky High School Female Athlete of the Year.

Ditty starred for four years with the Vanderbilt women’s tennis team, leading the squad to the school’s first-ever national championship appearance in 2001. Her 114 singles wins is second-best in Vanderbilt history. Awarded with the 1999 Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Vanderbilt University Female Athlete of the Year, she had 31 wins in 1999, the best single-season mark for a Commodore. An All-American in 1999-2001, she was named to the Academic All-SEC team and earned a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education. In 2009, Ditty was honored with entry into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame.

Starting in 1999, Ditty began a pro career that would land her a record 39 singles and doubles crowns on the USTA Pro Circuit, more than any other player. In 2005 and 2006, she racked up 12 doubles titles, then had her most successful tournament at the 2008 $75,000 Albuquerque event, where she won both singles and doubles. She won four singles titles in USTA Southern: Raleigh, Hilton Head Island and Georgia’s Sea Island and Lawrenceville, where she was runner-up twice.

In 2008, Ditty qualified for the Open Gaz de France tournament in Paris where she lost to the No. 6 seed and former world No. 1, Amélie Mauresmo. During the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, she made it through the first round by defeating Alona Bondarenko, who was seeded eighth, and got to the second round there before falling to qualifier Timea Bacsinszky 5–7, 4–6, after having leads in both sets. Her win over world No. 22 Alona Bondarenko was best-ever career win. In August, Julie defeated Yuan Meng in the first round at Cincinnati, marking her first win in a WTA main draw since Antwerp.

In 2009, Ditty was named to the United States Fed Cup team for their match in February against Argentina, after Bethanie Mattek withdrew with an injury; she played doubles with Liezel Huber. They would win the decisive match for the U.S. team, 6–2, 6–3.

Following Fed Cup, Julie lost in the opening round in Midland and in Memphis. She did not play in March.

In April, she won her opening main-draw match in Charleston, South Carolina, defeating Ayumi Morita 6–1, 6–1. This would mark her first tour-level win for the year. In her next tournament, a $75k at Dothan, Alabama, Julie retired in her opening round against Yan Zi. In doubles, she partnered with Carly Gullickson to extend her record of USTA ITF titles to 35 as they would win the doubles title.

In May, she entered the singles qualifying draws in Rome, Madrid, Strasbourg, and the French Open, failing to qualify in all four. In Rome, she partnered with Jill Craybas to win their opening round before falling in the second.

In 2010, Ditty appeared in the Family Circle Cup, Sony Ericsson Open, and in Wimbledon. She won her first qualifying match against Margalita Chakhnashvili, 6–4, 6–3. She then went on to defeat Jelena Dokić, 5–7, 7–5, 6–2 to reach the final round of qualifying where she lost a place in the main draw to compatriot Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

In June 2014, Ditty emerged from retirement and led Team Kentucky to a decisive win in the Southern Senior Cup Women's 35 and over division. She followed this up by winning the US Open National Playoff tournament for the Southern section.

Ditty has remained in the world of tennis after her retirement from active play. Her positions have included Middle Tennessee State University women’s assistant coach, Vanderbilt University women’s tennis volunteer coach, tennis pro at the Louisville Tennis Club and Director of Tennis at the Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland.

She was the Director of Tennis at Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington. She served as a USTA Kentucky Board member and Athlete Advisory Council Rep to the United States Olympic Committee. Additionally, she volunteered as the USTA Vice Chair of the USTA Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Olympic Team Events Committee. She was inducted into the USTA Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008.

Julie Ditty died on August 31, 2021, at the age of 42 after battling breast cancer.
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