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Post The best Bulldog athlete you probably don’t know about

Friday February 24, 2006

Georgia has no shortage of standout student-athletes. Tasha Humphrey, Courtney Kupets, DJ Shockley…all Bulldogs known and respected not only among our own fans but also nationwide among the media and fans who follow those sports. In other extremely successful programs like golf and swimming, there are also standouts who just don’t get the press and exposure to the fan base.

You might have heard that this is a pretty good time for Georgia men’s tennis. Manny Diaz usually has a competitive squad, but they recently added the ITA Team Indoor national title to their trophy case. With that indoor title, the Georgia program has at sometime or other won every bit of championship hardware available to an NCAA tennis program. The legacy of Diaz and Dan Magill is rock solid.

As a result of that title and an unblemished record, the tennis Dawgs are now ranked #1 in the nation. Of course a strong team like that needs more than one strong player. Strahinja Bobusic was just named SEC Player of the Week, and a total of four Bulldogs are nationally ranked singles players.

But the name most associated with the team these days is John Isner. Isner is the #1 singles player in the nation and one of the more compelling Bulldog athletes to come through Athens lately. The first thing you notice about Isner is his size. His 6’9″ frame would put him at home in Stegeman Coliseum, and it is imposing on the tennis court. At that height, and with that reach, his serve almost seems to come straight down. His first serve is devastating and nearly impossible to return when accurate. Obviously his game must be more complete than just a good serve to earn the #1 individual ranking, but the serve is the first thing the novice observer notices.

Isner is also an accomplished doubles player. He and Antonio Ruiz won the NCAA doubles national title last spring.

I discovered during my time at UGA that you could do a lot worse than spending spring afternoons at Foley Field or at the tennis complex. If you get the chance this spring, go check out Isner and the #1 tennis Dawgs. Even if you’re not a big tennis person, just watching Isner serve is likely to get a “daaaaaaaaamn” out of you and a bit of appreciation for one of the best athletes currently wearing the Red and Black.

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  • […] John Isner, the Bulldog tennis star I’ve mentioned a time or three here, is already making an impact on the professional tour. Earlier in the summer he advanced to the finals of one of his first professional tournaments. Now under the spotlight of the US Open, he’s continuing that success, winning over the crowd, and bringing the sounds of Athens to New York City. […]