Hall of Famers to play exhibition match
NEWPORT, R.I. — An exhibition match featuring tennis legends Monica Seles, Tracy Austin, Gigi Fernandez, and Rhode Island native and recently retired WTA Tour player Jill Craybas has been added to the schedule of events for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships and Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend in July.
The women’s doubles exhibition match will take place on Sunday, July 13 at 11 am at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, preceding the finals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. While the Hall of Fame hosts the men’s tournament annually, this exhibition match is the first time that a women’s tennis event has been played in Newport in many years.
“It is always a pleasure to welcome Hall of Famers back to Newport, and it is a particularly special treat to have Monica, Tracy, and Gigi on court. We’re glad for the opportunity to host Jill to play before her hometown crowd. The exhibition match is a great addition to our tournament and enshrinement events and we know the fans will have a great time seeing these four women back in action,” commented Mark Stenning, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Tickets for the exhibition match are on sale now to members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame on HallofFameTennisChampionships.com or via phone at 401-849-6053. The Member Pre-Sale for tickets will run May 16 - May 21, and tickets will go on sale to the general public on May 22 at 10 am. Information about becoming a member is available online or by phone as well. Tickets are $15 for South Stands and $25 for Courtside Seats, with discounts available for members.
Nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles was the world No. 1 player for 178 weeks. She won 53 singles titles and 6 singles titles. At the age of just 16 years and 6 months, Seles won her first Grand Slam title in 1990 at the French Open, defeating then world No. 1 Steffi Graf in the final. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992, Tracy Austin was ranked world No. 1 in the early 1980s. In 1979, at the age of 16 years and 9 months, Austin defeated Martina Navratilova and and Chris Evert en route to winning the US Open. She remains the youngest ever US Open champion to this day. She captured the title again in 1981, and won a total of 30 singles titles over the course of her career. Austin remains highly active in tennis as a broadcaster for Tennis Channel and BBC.
Doubles specialist Gigi Fernandez won 17 Grand Slam tournament doubles titles, including five consecutive French Open titles and victories at all four majors. She won 14 titles with Natasha Zvereva, making them one of the most successful doubles pairings in tennis history. Fernandez won Olympic gold medals at both the 1992 and 1996 Games and 68 career titles in women’s doubles. Originally from Puerto Rico, Fernandez now resides in Connecticut.
One of Rhode Island’s most successful pro athletes, East Greenwich native Jill Craybas enjoyed a lenghty and successful career of 17 years on the WTA Tour between 1996 and 2013. Craybas achieved a career high ranking of No. 39 in singles and No. 41 doubles. In 2002, she won the title at the Japan Open, and over the course of her career she won five doubles titles. From the 2000 US Open to the 2011 US Open, Craybas competed in 45 consecutive Grand Slam main draws. Her best result at a Grand Slam tournament was at Wimbledon in 2005 when she reached the fourth round and defeated Marion Bartoli and Serena Williams. Craybas represented the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and she was a member of the United States Fed Cup team.
Craybas began playing tennis as a recreational sport at age 10. She went on to compete for Lincoln School in Providence for two years, before relocating to Florida. She earned an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she earned a B.A. in Communications. As a senior in 1996, she won the NCAA women’s singles tennis championship. She was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. Craybas officially retired from the pro tour last September at the US Open.
The exhibition match tops off a week of tennis festivities at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event and the only men’s pro tennis tournament in New England will be held from July 5-13. Players scheduled to compete include No. 1 American John Isner and Australian great Lleyton Hewitt. On Saturday, July 12, the highest honor in tennis will be presented to five great champions and leaders of the sport in the International Tennis Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. The Class of 2014 enshrinees are former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, wheelchair tennis champion Chantal Vandierendonck, legendary coach Nick Bollettieri, tennis industry leader Jane Brown Grimes, and tennis broadcaster and historian John Barrett.
For additional information about the events and to order tickets, please visit HallofFameTennisChampionships.com or call 401-849-6053.
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