Kentucky player reached top 100 in singles and doubles
ATLANTA — The Southern Tennis Foundation and USTA Southern announced last week three tennis luminaries are scheduled for induction into the 2019 class of the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame, including Julie Ditty, the professional consultant for the Braidy Industries $60,000 Women’s Tennis Classic, A USTA Pro Circuit Event Presented by Bon Secours Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
Ditty reached a world ranking of No. 89 in singles and No. 65 in doubles and had a standout collegiate career at Vanderbilt.
Others to be inducted are Mary Hatfield, of McDonough, Ga., a highly-regarded volunteer on the national, sectional, state and local levels, along with a former USTA Southern staffer; and Gordon A. Smith, of Atlanta and New York, who served as USTA Southern president and is currently USTA executive director and CEO. They are scheduled to be inducted January 19, 2019, during the Lucy Garvin Southern Tennis Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, in Atlanta.
Established in 1977 with the induction of Bitsy Grant and Ham Richardson, the Hall of Fame will grow to 107 members after the induction ceremony. Other notable members include Stan Smith, Chanda Rubin, Roscoe Tanner, Linda Tuero, Gardner Mulloy and Lucy Garvin. The Southern Tennis Foundation’s website contains information on the hall, inductees and its charitable mission. The hall is located in the USTA Southern offices in Peachtree Corners, Ga.
Kentucky standout at all levels
Here is a little known but telling fact about Julie Ditty: She played high school tennis – in the second grade!
From then on, her accomplishments grew with her.
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 and earning the honor of representing her country on the U.S. Fed Cup team.
Former No. 4 player Mary Joe Fernández, who coached Ditty as Fed Cup captain, was among the advocates supporting her nomination to the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.
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.
Geoff MacDonald, who coached her at Vanderbilt, wrote a first-person report when Ditty competed in a doubles match versus Serena and Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2010. “She was the first great junior player that I recruited to Vanderbilt,” MacDonald recalled. “With Julie, I also felt a pride in her for raising the level of her game in her senior year and leading a young team to the national championships.”
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.
Also, in 2008, she competed in the main draws of Wimbledon and the Australian and French Opens.
One of Ditty’s top accomplishments was being named to the 2009 U.S. Fed Cup team. She teamed with Liezel Huber, winning the clinching doubles match 6-2, 6-3 to defeat Argentina and send the U.S. into the semifinals.
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.
Currently, she is the Director of Tennis at Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington and is the professional consultant for the Braidy Industries $60,000 Women’s Tennis Classic in Ashland, KY. She serves as a USTA Kentucky Board member and Athlete Advisory Council Rep to the United States Olympic Committee. Additionally, she volunteers 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.
“Her extensive career as a player, teacher, volunteer and role model makes her an obvious candidate for this honor. As a player, Julie has a long list of accomplishments throughout the state, region and nation,” noted USTA Kentucky Executive Director Jason Miller. “In addition, Julie is a dedicated teacher, coach and volunteer. She provides countless hours of instruction, support and leadership to USTA Kentucky and the Louisville tennis community year-round.”
There is no doubt that Ditty is among the best players to ever come out of the Bluegrass State.
Julie Ditty, Kentucky, 2019
- World ranking of No. 89 in singles and No. 65 in
- Won deciding doubles match in U.S. Fed Cup quarterfinals in 2009
- Holds record with 39 singles and doubles crowns on the USTA Pro Circuit
- Inducted into the USTA Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009
- Her 114 singles wins is second-best in Vanderbilt history
- Named All-American while at Vanderbilt in 1999-2001
- Awarded with the 1999 Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Vanderbilt University Female Athlete of the Year