Julie Ditty Qualls Passes
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. She won a record 38 USTA Pro Circuit titles.
Qualls 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, Qualls 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. She was named All-American, awarded the Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Vanderbilt University Female Athlete of the Year. She 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.
She 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. Her top WTA rankings were No. 89 in singles and No. 65 in doubles. 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
Qualls was elected to Vanderbilt Athletic Hall of Fame, Kentucky High School Hall of Fame, USTA Kentucky 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 and an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State and University of Louisville’s women's team. She has coached the KY Jr. Elite at Southern Level team championships. Qualls created and directed free tennis lessons at the Ashland (KY) 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.
Qualls 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.