University of Kentucky graduate Tom Jomby is coming home.
After a whirlwind start to his first season as a pro in 2015, the two-time college All-American in singles returns to his old stomping grounds as the annual Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships are set to begin.
The USTA Challenger-level event is Kentucky's only professional tennis tournament. A women's pro tourney will debut in Louisville next year.
The Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships get underway at UK's Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex with qualifying matches Saturday and Sunday. The main draw begins Monday and runs through Aug. 2.
It's the same complex where Jomby developed into a UK tennis Hall of Famer and became "one of the three best athletes I ever coached," former UK head coach Dennis Emery said.
Jomby, who graduated from UK last year, enters the tournament brimming with confidence. In the past year, he has seen his international singles ranking improve from No. 1,547 in September to his current No. 401 ranking.
"Right now I'm just trying to take it one match at a time," Jomby said. "If I can make it past one round I'll be good, if I can make it past two rounds it'll be better. I hope I can win it."
Jomby, a native of France, is making the rounds of the International Tennis Federation in hopes of moving up the rankings and playing in the 2016 Australian Open. The Open is the first of tennis' four Grand Slam events each year.
Should Jomby claim the Lexington Challenger, not only would he win a portion of the $50,000 that is allotted to the men's division, but his ranking would improve, bringing him one step closer to qualifying for Australia.
He faces stiff competition in the men's draw, though. Standing across the net will be Bjorn Fratangelo, the 2011 junior French Open champion; Yuki Bhambri, a former junior No. 1; and 2009 Australian junior champion Eric Quigley, a fellow UK grad and a local favorite.
"Every year the level is pretty high," Jomby said of the competition in Lexington. This will be the first time he will play in the event. "I've only heard good things about the tournament."
Last year's champion, James Duckworth, won by defeating James Ward, 6-3,6-4, and ended up reaching the second round of qualifying at the 2014 U.S. Open.
Jomby, who helped lead UK to the Southeastern Conference championship in 2012, likes his chances, not only because he will be playing in front of a friendly crowd of former UK teammates and coach, Cedric Kauffmann, but he will be playing on a hard surface, which he loves. He is 24-9 on hard surfaces in 2015.
"I'm excited," Jomby said of playing in Lexington again. "I hope I can play good and get some wins."
The men's main draw begins Monday with the women starting Tuesday. The $100,000 in prize money will be equally divided between the men's and women's divisions.
The women's draw includes former No. 4 player in the world Kimiko Date-Krumm and 2009 U.S. Open singles quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin.
"This year's event is the best in the history of the Lexington Challenger," said tournament director Brooks Lundy. "It should be the most competitive event ever on the court."