(August 30, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – For nearly 18 years, Jill Craybas represented the United States on the WTA Tour. Her famous work ethic, charisma and longevity made her an instant fan favorite. At the age of 39, the Rhode Island-native revealed she will be hanging up her racquet following the US Open.
Craybas peaked at a career-high singles ranking of 39, in 2006, and will be best remembered for reaching the Round of 16 at the 2005 Wimbledon Championships after stunning Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the third round.
A NCAA singles champion and graduate of the University of Florida, Craybas’ lone WTA title came at the Japan Open, in Tokyo, in 2002. She also reached the final of the 2008 Pattaya Open, in Thailand, where she fell to Agnieszka Radwanska in a third set tiebreak.
At 5’3”, Craybas was a far more accomplished doubles player during her career. With Marlene Weingartner, she reached the French Open quarterfinals in 2004 and claimed five titles from 2003 to 2012 with five different partners. Her most recent crown came in Bad Gastein, Austria, in 2012, alongside Julia Goerges.
She comes into her final US Open focusing on only doubles, teaming with compatriot Coco Vandeweghe. The American pair are set to face the Romanian duo of Alexandra Cadantu and Simona Halep in the first round.
Craybas recently sat down with Josh Meiseles and Vito Ellison at Taste of Tennis to discuss her career, most memorable moments and future plans.
TPN: What has been your favorite place to play?
JC: Definitely in the US Open. I grew up only two hours from here so I know a lot of people here and a lot of people come to watch me play. The city has great energy and a great atmosphere so it’s nice to be back.
TPN: We see a lot of players retiring at 28, 29 years old. What’s the secret to your longevity? How do you keep yourself playing at such a high level?
JC: I’ve done a good job of making sure my fitness level is always there when competing
against the younger players , but I do have to say this is my last tournament. I probably
just decided a month ago. I’m really sad and excited.
TPN: How did you decide to hang it up?
JC: It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long. But I feel like lately my priorities have been starting to change, I’ve been starting to want other things in my life. I really struggled this past year with my tennis and how I was doing. I started pursuing some other things and started getting interested in other things, but it’s never an easy decision. You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”
TPN: What has kept you motivated all these years?
JC: I’ve always loved the competition. I’ve always loved playing. I’ve always loved the
game. Loved going out and hitting. Loved going out and competing. Every day I feel like
you’re learning something new. With your losses you learn something, with your wins
you learn something. It’s always kept me really, really motivated. Learning new things and always trying to get better and better. And you hear that from the top players too. They’re always trying to get better and better. Ones that are number one in the world are always trying to get that extra edge.
TPN: A lot of memories, obviously. Are there a few that really stand out?
JC: Definitely when I beat Serena at Wimbledon. Not only was it one of the biggest stages, it was the third round of Wimbledon and was one of the biggest wins of my career. I remember points of that match that even when I lost the point the energy of the crowd was amazing. There were moments when I felt that this is what I play for. The feeling, the energy you get from the crowd, the competition, the amazing points that you have and that was one that really stuck out for me.
TPN: You’re in the (singles) main draw?
JC: I’m not playing singles, I’m hoping to play doubles here with Coco Vandeweghe. She is a really great person I can finish with.
TPN: Do you have any post-career projects you are working on?
JC: I’m taking a photography class online. Doing a little bit of commentating here and there. I’m not sure if it’s something I want to pursue but it’s something I’ve been interested in.