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Tuesday September 10, 2013 Former NCAA singles champ Jill Craybas announced retirement after 18 years

Updated: 2:51pm, September 10

Craybas GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Her career would equal two or three for other professional tennis players.

At 39, former University of Florida standout and Gator Great Jill Craybas announced her retirement this week after her elimination from the U.S. Open doubles draw.

"It’s never an easy decision,” Craybas said in an interview with Tennis Panorama News. “You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”

Craybas led the UF women’s team to the 1996 NCAA team championship, then won the singles draw that same year, joining Lisa Raymond as the only players in program ever to accomplish the team and individual double.

After that remarkable run, she turned pro.

In her 18 years on the WTA circuit, Craybas amassed career earnings of more than $2.5 million and rose to as high as No. 17 in April 2006 in the women's world rankings, less than a year after shocking Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the third round of the 2005 Wimbledon Championships.

Craybas’ lone professional title came at the 2002 Japan Open in Tokyo.

In 2008, Craybas became the ninth women’s tennis player in school history to be inducted into the Florida Athletics Hall of Fame.

“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,” Craybas said. “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.”

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