ASHLAND, Ky. — Gail Brodsky hasn’t lost her touch in the Braidy Industries $60,000 Women’s Tennis Classic presented by Bon Secours Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
Last year’s qualifier-turned-singles champion at the Ashland Tennis Center entered this week’s sequel unseeded.
That didn’t stop her from dumping No. 6 En Shuo Liang of Taipei 6-0, 6-4 on Tuesday as the main draw got under way.
“She’s definitely a world class player,” Brodsky said of her 177th-ranked opponent. “I feel great to be going to the next round.”
Liang climbed back into the match by building a 4-1 lead in the second set before Brodsky turned the tide.
“She’s definitely a hard hitter. That’s my style, too,” Brodsky said. “I decided I had to work my way back because I didn’t want to go to a third set.”
Brodsky knows about working her way back.
The 28-year-old mother of two lives in Kirkland, Washington, where she also trains junior players with husband Mark Hanson. At his urging, the world’s former No. 182 women’s player at age 21 launched a comeback after leaving the professional ranks for five years citing tennis burnout.
“The entire time I’ve been coaching at a high level,” Brodsky said. “I think it helped me identify things with my own career.”
Last summer’s title in Ashland brought her to tears.
“I almost couldn’t believe it, being off the court so long,” Brodsky said. “I’ve just been trying to take it all in stride, just do what I can every match and every single point.”
Brodsky said there was no doubt in her mind about returning to ATC.
“I’m so excited to be back in Ashland,” she said. “It’s always felt like home.”
Hanson was one of Julie Ditty’s coaches during her record-setting USTA Pro Circuit career.
“I admire her so much,” Brodsky said. “Mark would tell me stories about her hard work and being willing to accept criticism.”
Last year, Brodsky stayed with Jack and Juanita Ditty during the tournament.
“The Dittys are such an awesome, special tennis family,” Brodsky said. “It’s incredible. Jack (tournament chairman) has such a passion for the sport. I will keep coming back as long as they have the event.”