2014/10/20

Jill Craybas To Hang Up Racquet After the US Open

 

 By Vito Ellison and Josh Meiseles Special to Tennis Panorama News

(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.

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Taste of Tennis Brings Tennis Stars and Culinary Celebrities Together for Pre-US Open Soirée

 

Serena Williams photo by Josh Meiseles

Serena Williams photo by Josh Meiseles

By  Vito Ellison  and Josh Meiseles Special to Tennis Panorama News

(August 22, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – There are few tennis events that reveal players’ personalities and exhibit their creativity outside the court quite like the Taste of Tennis. An annual pre-US Open event in midtown Manhattan, the Taste of Tennis serves as an amalgam of tennis, fashion and a premier culinary showcase from some of New York’s finest restaurants.

Venus

The 14th annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis was held Thursday evening with proceeds benefitting the James Beard Foundation, an organization that helps develop the culinary arts. Serena Williams hosted a star-studded event, featuring former ATP Top-10 talents James Blake and Janko Tipsarevic, as well as WTA stars Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams.

 

 

ESPN analyst and former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert made an appearance, along with doubles legend Mark Woodforde. Two-time Winter Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan also took part in the festivities.

“I had two or three different sushis, the little slider was good. Very good food,” the always animated Gilbert exclaimed. “This event I think I’ve gone every single year for 15 years and the lady behind it Judy Lerner is good people right there.”

Among the chefs that participated, Top Chef Masters champion Marcus Samuelsson joined fellow alums Harold Dieterle, Dale Talde, Jesse Schenker and Jonathan Waxman. World-renowned chef David Burke was also on hand.

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There was plenty of tennis discussion on the red carpet, with Tipsarevic discussing the grind of the ATP Tour and the current state of his game. “You really need to be focused every single day of your life, because you have other younger and better guys who are working to take your spot. I kind of lost my focus a bit and you can see the results. But I’m feeling good now, I’m playing good, it’s not the end of the world and I hope I’ll be back in the Top-10.”

Aga

Blake also commented on whether the J-Block will be out in full force at the US Open. “I think they’ll be here. They might not be as big as they used to be, because my friends had to go out and actually get real jobs, so some of them can’t make it out to the day matches. If there’s a night match, there’ll be plenty of J-Blockers.”

The evening also included some breaking news as 39-year-old Jill Craybas, who reached a career-high singles ranking of 39 in 2006, revealed that she will be retiring from professional tennis following the US Open.

“It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long,” Craybas said. “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.”

The BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis benefited the James Beard Foundation. The event was produced by AYS Sports Marketing.

 

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