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Greater Ashland Tennis Association announces US Open Wild Card Challenge involvement

The eyes of the tennis world will focus on Ashland, Kentucky on July 22-29 during the BRAIDY INDUSTRIES $60,000 USTA PRO CIRCUIT WOMEN’S TENNIS CLASSIC. Tournament chairman Dr. Jack Ditty has announced that this year’s tournament will take part in the US Open Wild Card Challenge and will be live streamed on the internet.

The Ashland, KY tournament will be one of three tournaments which will decide the winner of the US Open Main Draw Wild Card for 2018. This winner must be an American woman player who advances through the most rounds and earns the most points in the tournaments taking place in Stockon, CA; Ashland, KY; and Lexington, KY.

Further elevating the tournament to the global stage is the addition of live scoring for all Main Draw matches along with live streaming of matches by the USTA. Over a five-day span, viewers all over the world can watch their favorite players compete in Ashland by logging on to usta.com.

The USTA Pro Circuit Tournament brings international players to small communities and inspires new generations of players to take part in the game. Spectators will see top players from countries such as Germany, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Japan, Australia, and South Africa arrive in eastern Kentucky to compete.

The $60,000 prize money is the largest the Ashland tournament has ever had. Greater Ashland Tennis Association will donate proceeds from the tournament to improving courts at the Ashland Tennis Center.

Ditty shared the impact lead sponsor Braidy Industries and the USTA Pro Circuit Tournament will have on the community:

“It is with great pride and pleasure to welcome the USTA Pro Circuit back to Ashland, Kentucky after our last five tournaments from 2004-2008. The Title Sponsor for those five tournaments was Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. This Braidy Industries $60,000 Women’s USTA Pro Circuit Event is made possible by the enthusiasm and hope that has come to Ashland during the past year by Craig Bouchard, who is the CEO of Braidy Industries. In Ashland, Braidy Industries will manufacture the strongest and lightest metal in the world utilizing a highly skilled labor force in Eastern Kentucky. Our entire community has welcomed Braidy Industries for the hope that it has created for a greater future for our citizens. This tennis tournament will shine a national and international light on Ashland, Kentucky during the week of July 21 to July 29, 2018. This will present our community to the world through the professional world class tennis players, officials and administrators in a beautiful public tennis facility with an exceptional tournament committee, generous sponsors and enthusiastic fans.”

Craig Bouchard, CEO of Braidy Industries believes that this region is the ideal location for such an event:

“Braidy Industries sees exceptional promise in Northeastern Kentucky. We are proud to sponsor this event that brings professional tennis players to Ashland. Soon tennis players and fans all over the world will turn their eyes to our community and experience the hospitality and professionalism that is commonplace in this area.” Tournament title sponsor, Braidy Industries is a future-leaning advanced manufacturer of metals for the global transportation and defense industries. The company recently broke ground on a $1.5 billion aluminum rolling mill in Ashland, KY.

Kevin Halter, CEO of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital said the event will bring hundreds of visitors to the area:

“OLBH was the title sponsor for this event for five years between 2004 and 2008, and we could not be happier to see it return to Ashland and to once again have the opportunity to be involved,” said Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital CEO Kevin Halter. “As a proponent of health and exercise, OLBH is proud to help bring this example of physical fitness to the community. We look forward to the event and encourage everyone to embrace this opportunity by supporting the tournament through attendance and in making welcome the hundreds of players, officials and fans who will visit Ashland as a result of the Women’s Tennis Classic.”

 Sponsor Jim Fannin spoke on the effect the tournament will have on eastern Kentucky’s athletes:

“My rise to playing and coaching tennis internationally began on the public courts of Ashland, Kentucky. What an honor and privilege it is to be a part of bringing this level of professional tennis to my hometown. On behalf of Jim Fannin Brands, we are proud to be a sponsor of this event.  We believe the efforts of all the sponsors, volunteers, patrons, media, fans and players will ignite and fuel the dreams of many young eastern Kentucky athletes, as they create their own pathway to success.” Ashland native and tournament sponsor, Jim Fannin is an executive coach, consultant, bestselling author, and accomplished tennis player. He has been a professional coach for 40+ years and has penned several books including S.C.O.R.E. for Life: The Secret Formula for Thinking Like A Champion.

 Tournament pro player consultant and Ashland native, Julie Ditty shared the following:

“I am pleased that my hometown of Ashland, Kentucky is bringing the world class professional tennis players of the US Pro Circuit to the Ashland Tennis Center for this tournament. The welcome that we received by the members of the tournament committee and fans will make this week in Ashland one of the best pro tournaments in the United States.”

Ditty is a three-time Kentucky State Champion, a three-time All-American, and spent 10 years playing on the USTA Pro Circuit and WTA Tour. She played in the US Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. She serves on the USTA Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Olympic Committee as Vice Chairman. Julie Ditty is the Head Tennis Professional at Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington, KY.

The USTA has approximately 90 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $15,000 to $125,000. The USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals.

On average, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries compete on the USTA Pro Circuit annually for more than $3 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points.

Greater Ashland Tennis Association

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