Kentucky Mourns Julie Ditty Qualls

Kentucky has lost someone irreplaceable in our tennis community. Julie Ditty Qualls passed away last night from a long-fought battle with metastatic breast cancer. 

Julie was a bright light personally and professionally, and her smile will not be forgotten.

She began playing tennis at Ashland’s Russell High School when she was in second grade!

Before she was a high-school star, Julie 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. And went on to be an award-winning collegiate tennis player at Vanderbilt University.  Julie was named All-American, awarded the Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Vanderbilt University Female Athlete of the Year.

Julie continued to play as a WTA pro for 10 years, she won a record 38 USTA Pro Circuit titles and played four seasons of World Team Tennis. She competed in the main draws at Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open and the French Open and was a member of US Fed Cup Team. In April of this year, she along with three former Vanderbilt Tennis players won the World Team Tennis National Championship.

Julie was elected to Vandy Athletic Hall of Fame, KY High School Hall of Fame, USTA KY Tennis Hall of Fame and the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.  In May of this year, she was inducted as the inaugural member of the Ashland Tennis Center Hall of Fame.

She has been a Volunteer Assistant Tennis Coach at Vanderbilt University, Assistant Coach Middle Tennessee State and Assistant Coach for the University of Louisville’s Women's Tennis Team.  She has coached the KY Jr. Elite at Southern Level team championships. Julie created and directed free tennis lessons at the Ashland Tennis Center. Between two free clinics, she introduced tennis to nearly 1,000 juniors in Northeastern Kentucky.  She also served on the USTA Kentucky Board of Directors along with other volunteer organizations.

Julie consistently contributed to tennis in Kentucky as a player, coach, and volunteer instructor, demonstrating the highest level of leadership and inspiration to her students and colleagues.

If you would like to hear Julie's story in her own words Listen Here

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