Winning seemingly never ends for Isner

ATHENS – Rohan Gajjar – a name Georgia's John Isner couldn't quite remember.

Gajjar, who was born in India and is the son of a pair of doctors, is not a huge name in the college tennis world. He ended his college career at Arkansas as the 62nd ranked player in the country. He's unknown – unknown even to Isner.

"I can't remember that name. Did he play for Arkansas?" Isner said laughing.

"I remember him," Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. "He was one tough cookie."

Gajjar was the last person to beat Isner in a dual match. It happened April of 2005 when Isner fell 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 to the Razorback. Isner's steady hand is one of the reasons Georgia has lost only one match in the last two years.

"Yeah, it's been a while," Isner said with a smile when talking about his singles play.

Isner's 45-match winning streak has been the glue that has kept the Bulldogs' number-one ranked tennis team together over the last four years at Georgia. Just last week Isner, who is ranked third nationally, beat Tulsa's second-ranked Arnau Brugues 6-4, 6-1. The win means Isner will likely vault to one of the top two spots in the country when rankings are released on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs, a group that has its eyes set on winning the national title on its home courts this May, are depending on a steady stream of points from Isner, and not just from singles, but doubles, too.

Isner and his doubles partner Louis Flores are currently the number-one ranked doubles team in the country and are 19-1. Their only loss came during an inconsequential match in early February. Isner is the winningest doubles player in Georgia history. He is also the only Georgia player ever to have won 100 individual and doubles matches in his career.

"There are a lot of guys who could have done the same thing in that time, but either they left early or had to deal with injuries," Isner said. "I could have had a better singles year when I was a freshman, but I was suffering with a back injury. The next fall I dedicated myself to improving my singles game, and I think it's worked."

Milestones are coming fast and furious for the senior from Greensboro, NC, but one more remains that could be achieved as soon as Georgia's April 14th match against Tennessee. If Isner maintains his winning ways and does not lose before the season-ending match with the Vols he can become the all-time winningest singles player in Georgia history.

Not concerned with just himself, Isner is quick to point out the team's success. With Sunday's win over #20 LSU the Bulldogs are now 11-0. They have shut out opponents in nine of their eleven matches, winning 105 of 115 possible sets – astounding. And Georgia tennis isn't just beating opponents – it's thrashing them at the level that's not been seen in some time.

Still, the national title eluded the Bulldogs California last season. They fell to Pepperdine, a team they had beaten earlier in the year, 4-2.

"That left such a bad taste in our mouths," Isner admitted about the loss. "It killed us."

With two SEC Tournament Championships, two National Indoor Championships and a trip to the NCAA Finals over the last four years, the only thing missing for Isner and this group of Bulldogs is a national title win.

"We want to win it in Athens," Isner said. "I have never played the NCAAs here, and I can't wait for it. The other three years have been at Texas A&M, Tulsa and Stanford, and from what I understand it's not the same as it is here in Athens. I can't wait."

"That's what these guys came to Georgia for – to play in Athens for the national title," Diaz said. "We want a sold out house to play in front of – that's what these kids dream about."

That dream is still alive. Meanwhile, two years later, Isner isn't losing any sleep over Gajjar.


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