The Drive for Five

Junior John Isner is used to pressure. The men's tennis team is currently ranked #1 in the nation and individually he is ranked #2 in singles and #9 in doubles with partner Antonio Ruiz. Isner also recently won the SEC Player of the Year Award. This weekend begins the NCAA Tournament. The Dawgs have 4 NCAA Titles, but none since 2001. They will begin their mission at home in a Saturday match vs Furman. Earlier Isner talked to me about the tournament and a whole lot more.

Dave McMahon -- The tennis team is undefeated and are the SEC Champs, but now it is for real... right?

John Isner -- I think so. It will be hard though, since we are undefeated everybody will be gunning for us. It is now one and done so we have to remain focussed at all times.

DM -- Would anything besides a championship be a disappointment for Georgia?

JI -- I try not to think about that. To win the national title has always been our goal, but no matter what we've had a great season.

DM -- Growing up in North Carolina, did you always know about the Georgia tennis program?

JI -- Yes. I would watch the tournament on ESPN. When they recruited me, I was excited because they have always been one of the top 3 programs in the nation along with UCLA and Stanford. But it was a no brainer for me to go here.

DM -- You have had success in both singles and doubles which do you like better?

JI -- I like doubles, especially in college tennis because the fans are so into it. Also the doubles point is so important so you have to win it.

DM -- What are your strengths?

JI -- My serve. If my serve is working I will be tough to beat.

DM -- What are the team's strengths?

JI -- We are so deep. We are really deep from 1 to 6. If one of us has a bad match, the rest of us are there to pick each other up.

DM -- What does the team do to keep loose?

JI -- We joke around a lot. We pick on each other especially the freshman Josh Varela, but it all is good fun.

DM -- With another win, your coach Manuel Diaz will record his 400th career win, how important is he to the program?

JI -- He is very important. He was a player here, he was an assistant coach here and now I head coach for a very long time. He won 2 NCAA Championships as an assistant and 2 as a head coach. He really means a lot to Georgia tennis?

DM -- Probably the one person who means more to Georgia tennis than Manuel Diaz is Dan Magill... any good Dan Magill stories?

JI -- He is amazing. He remembers everything. He can tell you stories from every match he has seen here. He takes me to the Hall of Fame from time to time and it's incredible all the things he knows.

DM -- Thank you for your time and good luck in the NCAA's.

Georgia will host part of the first two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday Alabama plays Georgia Tech at 12:00 pm and then Georgia plays Furman at 3:00 pm. On Sunday the winners face will face each other at 2:00 pm. Tickets for each day are $5 for adults and $3 for students with a college ID and for people under 18.

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