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John Isner in Focus

John Isner playing for Team World.

The marathon man of tennis, John Isner’s name is etched into the record books as the winner of the longest professional match in history. But there is more to this big-serving American than big matches – here are some other facts you may not know about Team World competitor.

1. He’s a (relative) tennis latecomer

First experiencing tennis at the relatively late age of nine, Isner started taking the sport seriously from around age 11. The potential soon became clear as he thrived in the game throughout high school before setting records in US college tenn

2. And if not tennis …

Isner believes he would probably be a professional in basketball, which he played until ninth grade. His childhood idol was NBA player Karl Malone, who spent 18 years with Utah Jazz before joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

3. That height is handy

A lofty 6’, 3” as a teenager, the American shot up five inches as a 16-year-old. Now six foot, eight inches (or 208 cm), Isner trails only Ivo Karlovic, who is two inches taller, in the ATP height department. That height contributes to his most important weapon, Isner so far delivering more than 9000 career aces with his signature booming serve.

Sam Querrey, John Isner and Jack Sock are a close knit unit, competing at Davis Cup for the US.
John Isner (centre), enjoys close friendships with his US Davis Cup teammates Sam Querrey (left) and Jack Sock. They competed together in Australia earlier this year.

4. He loves all sports

From basketball to wrestling and several codes of football, the American loves his sport. Among the American football teams he supports are the Carolina Panthers in NFL and the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Isner also has a soft spot for Australian Football League team Fremantle Dockers. An Australian roommate, Strachy Bobusic, during Isner’s college tennis days sparked the unexpected AFL connection.

5.He’s well educated

With reading high on his list of off-court interests, Isner has long prioritized education. The American attended the Hines Page Senior High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he majored in speech communication.

6.Records came early

Signs of professional success were significant as the American made his mark in US college tennis. Isner became the all-time leader for singles and doubles when he played for the University of Georgia from 2004 to 2007. In each of those years, he earned All-American honors, Isner’s sparkling college career capped when he led his team to the coveted NCAA Championship in 2007.

7. He loves history … and has made plenty of it

History was Isner’s favourite subject at school – and as a professional player, he’s made plenty of it. Most notably, he featured in the longest match in tennis history when he defeated Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of their first-round Wimbledon 2010 epic. Played over three days, the match lasted just over 11 hours. “What Nicolas and I did, we made history that day and it was something extraordinary, that’s for sure,” he said soon afterwards. “It will never be seen again. In that sense, our names are going to be etched into the history books forever.”

8.There’s no place like home

Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, the proud southern American most loves competing on home soil. Ten of Isner’s 12 career titles have been won in America, with others twice claimed in Auckland, New Zealand. While he lists hard court as his preferred surface and naturally favors the US Open, Isner has performed well at every Grand Slam. He’s been a fourth-round contender at three of the fourth majors, most recently at the 2016 French Open.

9. He loves animals

“I love animals and I love my dog in particular,” says Isner. His Cocker Spaniel, Magill – named after the American’s late coach from the University of Georgia – starred alongside Isner as he launched the Aces for Animals campaign late in 2016. For every ace Isner hits at certain American events, Nulo Pet Food donates 10 meals to sheltered animals. The 65 aces en route to a third Hall of Championships title in Newport resulted in 650 meals for animals at the Humane Society Shelter SouthCoast, with close to 1500 meals delivered in total.

10. And people are equally special

Isner is close to parents Robert and Karen, a builder and real estate agent respectively, as well as older brothers Jordan and Nathan. His fiancée, jewelry designer Morgan McKinley, often accompanies him at ATP tournaments. Other close relationships are with American colleagues like Sam Querrey and they have spurred on each other’s achievements. “All of us want each other to do well but none of want to fall behind the other one,” Isner told early in his career. “That’s definitely one of the things that pushes me to still be up there with those guys, because most of them are tremendous talents.”


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