ASHLAND, KY — Professional tennis once again returns to Ashland in July as the city will host the Braidy Industries $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Tennis Classic to be played at the Ashland Tennis Center, with a potential spot in this year’s U.S. Open on the line.

Tournament director Jack Ditty joined Tuesday with the CEOs of Braidy Industries and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital at the tennis center to announce the recruitment of corporate sponsors for the tournament that runs from July 22-29.

Ditty said the tournament will be one-third of the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge where a wild card spot in the grand slam event will be awarded to the top points earner from the three events on the USTA’s pro circuit. The other cities hosting such tournaments will be Lexington, Kentucky, and Stockton, California.

“The opportunity to earn a chance to be in the U.S. Open for these players makes this tournament hugely more attractive,” said Ditty, comparing the event to those previous events hosted by the city between 2000 and 2007. “The winner of the U.S. Open may get their start in Ashland.”

Hosted by the Greater Ashland Tennis Association, the Women’s Tennis Classic will be televised on the internet by a crew sent from the USTA, putting the city in the spotlight.

“This is going to be an extraordinary community effort,” said Ditty, a former tennis player for Ashland Paul Blazer and the University of Kentucky. “And the value of this tournament for teams in this area, for them to watch young women who are the same age they are play at this level is just immeasurable.”