Fresh off a team national championship, John Isner set the Georgia record for all-time wins at 139 on Wednesday afternoon. He wasted little time defeating Furman’s Andy Juc 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the NCAA singles tournament.
“Once I got on the court, I completely forgot about it,” Isner said. “It actually hit me when I was serving 5-2 in the second set. I told myself I better clamp down here and not let up.”
Parker was not in attendance because he was being inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. Parker was just the latest Georgia great passed by Isner this season.
“For me to have my name mentioned with those guys is an honor,” he said. “For me to have more career wins than all those guys is special. It is surreal considering how many great players that have come through this program.”
Isner is 139-27 in singles at Georgia, and has been a mainstay at the No.1 spot in the lineup.
“He had been deliriously happy for four years, and I don’t know how he is going to get in his car and drive away,” Isner’s mother, Karen Isner, said.
Work remains before Isner, the nation’s top-ranked singles and doubles player, embarks on a professional career.
He is attempting to become the first player since Georgia’s Matias Boeker in 2001 to sweep all three of the NCAA tennis titles.
Isner and doubles partner Luis Flores will play Brown’s Dan Hanegby and Saurabh Kohli of Brown in the first round of the doubles tournament at 5:30 p.m. today.
Isner will play 54th-ranked Bassam Beidas of Pepperdine at noon.
Isner is not the only Georgia player still in contention for the triple crown. Flores and Travis Helgeson can still pull off feat. Helgeson is paired with Matic Omerzel in doubles.
“The only difference with me is that there is a No. 1 besides my name,” Isner said. “Those guys are tremendously great players. I just happen to play No.1 and play more ranked guys than them, but they are unbelievable players and they really have a shot to go far in this tournament.”
The 6-foot-9 Greensboro, N.C. native came to Athens after Manuel Diaz’s only losing season in 2003. That year the Bulldogs finished 8-16.
“He knew the program would rebound. There was never any doubt in any of us. None was ever worried about it,” Karen Isner said.
Isner always had faith in the program even when he witnessed the Bulldogs lose 5-2 at North Carolina as a high school senior.
“I remember John came out to watch our team play at North Carolina and we just got waxed,” said coach Manuel Diaz. “I personally had never experienced a losing season and we struggled.”
Isner has helped return the program to prominence. As a sophomore, Isner paired with Antonio Ruiz to capture the NCAA doubles championship.
However, what Isner wanted most was a team championship. He said he was “bummed out” after losing the team national championship and didn’t play well in the individual and doubles tournament that followed his team’s runner-up performance.
“I will take a team championship over an individual championship any day,” Isner said. “To get that team championship under my belt is really going to help me out because I have a lot of confidence in me.”