ASHLAND, Ky. — A 17-year-old played her way into the main draw of the Braidy Industries $60,000 Women’s Tennis Classic on Saturday at Ashland Tennis Center.
Payton Stearns, of Cincinnati, defeated Vladica Babic, of Montenegro, 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 as a tie-breaking third set was needed in a pre-qualifying wild card tournament that featured eight players.
Stearns did not compete in the Braidy event last year because she took part in junior doubles at Wimbledon.
Madison Riley, a college player from South Point, was also part of Saturday’s competition.
Babic, a member of the International Tennis Federation college team, was the No. 1 seed. Stearns was second. Babic and Julia Rosenquist will both play in the qualifier on Monday, July 22. Rosenquist knocked off Riley, 6-1, 6-0, on Saturday.
Babic beat Jasmine Boyd, 6-1, 6-0, in the first round. She then eliminated Maria Santilli, who had advanced past Alexis Marrill.
Stearns took down Maria Kostiuk, 6-2-61, Rosenquist, 6-3, 6-1, and then Babic.
The 2019 version of the Tennis Classic will again be part of the US Open Wild Card Challenge. Last year’s tournament included 14 players who played in the 2018 US Open and was embraced by the local Ashland community. It was awarded the Tournament of the Year by the Kentucky Tennis Association.
All of the Main Draw tournament matches will again be available via live scoring. The Feature Match of the Day and the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be broadcast live online at ashlandprotennis.com. All matches and activities will be at the Ashland Tennis Center July 20-28.