MEDFORD - Julia Browne, a 2011 Tufts graduate who won the NCAA Division III women's tennis singles title as  Jumbo in 2010 and was a three-time NESCAC Player of the Year, turned professional after graduating last May. She is currently playing on the International Tennis Federation Tour in Turkey.

"I decided to turn pro after graduating because I felt that I was not ready to stop playing competitive tennis and I still  feel like my best tennis is ahead of me," Browne wrote in an email from Turkey. "I owe a lot to Coach (Kate) Bayard, Coach (Jaime) Kenney, my teammates, and my opponents for pushing me throughout college so I could get the confidence needed to try out the pro circuit."

Browne is playing on the same tour as all of the top professionals that everyone knows about such as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. However, she is currently playing in the smallest pro tournaments in terms of prize money. This month she is in Antalya, Turkey for four tournaments which are $10,000 prize money tournaments.

As a new player on the tour, Browne is playing in the qualifying draw since she does not yet have a world ranking. In order to get a world ranking, she will have to win two or three matches in the qualifying draw and then one round in the main draw. Her opportunities to play in bigger tournaments will come from having a world ranking. She does have a national ranking of 159 in the US for all women of all ages, which helps her get into the smaller pro tournaments. She earned this ranking by playing and winning several rounds in national prize money tournaments last year and this past summer. 

"The competition is very tough and the adjustment has certainly been difficult," she said. "I plan to play professionally for two years before I attend graduate school to receive a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Overall, my true goal for tennis is to be able to look back on this experience and know that I did all that I could to become the best player I could be. Of course we all want to be #1 in the world, but in the end you can only do your best."

An interesting point to note is that currently at the tournament in Turkey, there are only three American players (two women and one man) and all former are former NCAA Div. III National Singles Champions. In addition to Browne, Siobhan Finicane from Pomona Pitzer was the 2008 winner and William Boe-Wiegaard from Bates was the 2006 winner.

"There is definitely something to be said for Division III sports," Browne said.

While trying to advance her tennis career, Browne will also enjoy the travel experiences and meeting other players from around the world.

"Turkey is amazing," she said. "I have never been here and probably would not have had this opportunity to visit. Antalya is right on the Mediterranean so it is absolutely gorgeous.

"There are so many players here from all over the world," she continued. "It has been an incredible experience to travel to such a distant place and talk with the other players to learn how they grew up and ended up playing pro tennis. Coming from a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts is extremely different from the lives most of these other women have lived. Many of them have been playing professionally since they were 15 with no intention of attending college. I have really enjoyed seeing a new country and meeting so many new and different people here."

You can follow Julia on the pro tour at the following website link. All of the tournaments are listed and you can click on the 10K in Antalya during these October weeks and folllow her results in singles and doubles: