Aug. 20, 2008
Julie Ditty is enjoying her time playing on the world's biggest tennis stage. The former Commodore standout is striving to reach her personal goals on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
Ditty started playing professionally on the International Tennis Federation circuit during the summers while she was an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt. This allowed her to establish an ITF ranking which jumpstarted her professional career.
Coming out of college, Ditty had to adjust to a different tennis culture.
"Playing at the professional level is much different than playing in college," Ditty said. "Unlike college, you are out there playing for yourself. It's a much different experience now that I am representing only myself instead of a team and university."
With Ditty's WTA Tour ranking rapidly improving over the last 12 months, it allowed her to play in some of the biggest stages on the professional circuit. So far this year, Ditty has played in all three of the tour's four grand slam tournaments: French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Last September, Ditty had the opportunity to face off against one of the best American tennis players in Lindsay Davenport during the quarterfinals of the Bali Open in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.
"The main thing that has kept me playing professionally is my drive to succeed," Ditty said. "I have set goals for myself to reach and am motivated to strive towards them every time I step onto the tennis court."
Ditty reached one of her career goals earlier this year as she cracked the top-100 ranking earlier this year and has been ranked as high as No. 89 in the world. Before playing on the WTA Tour, the Ashland, Ky., native won eight ITF singles titles and 23 doubles titles. In June of 2007, Ditty pushed her way into the top-100 in the doubles rankings.
"It was hard financially to keep playing in some of these tournaments with all of the travel expenses that you have. Not everyone is as fortunate as me to have their parents support them while they are trying to make it. I am really thankful that my dad was able to support me during the first few years."
At Vanderbilt, Ditty established herself as one of the best players in the school history. The three-time ITA All-American is second in career singles win, but remembers the team achievements over her personal accolades.
Ditty's most memorable moment of her college career was playing tennis in the NCAA finals her senior year.
"Playing against Stanford for the National Championship is something I will never forget; it was an amazing experience. We had a great team that year and we were all really good friends."
Ditty graduated in 2002 from Vanderbilt with a degree in Early Childhood Education. In order to meet the student-teaching requirements before graduating, Ditty decided to go a fifth year.
"I decided to go a fifth year so I could focus on student teaching and playing tennis as much as I could."
"Vanderbilt was a great experience for me and I loved the team we had there. Coach Macdonald was a great coach and fun to play for."
Ditty still has a good relationship with Vanderbilt head coach Geoff Macdonald and still keeps in touch with some of her former Commodore teammates.