Dan Magill has seen a lot of tennis in his 89 years. He says nothing compares to John Isner’s 11-hour, 183-game win over Nicolas Mahut that finally concluded today at Wimbledon.
Magill helped build the University of Georgia tennis program, compiling a 706-183 record as the Bulldogs’ coach in 1955-1988. Isner was an All-American at Georgia in 2004-2007, playing his home matches at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
“It was definitely the greatest athletic achievement in any sport,” Magill said in a telephone interview. “It was just a tremendous physical feat. That’s a record I really don’t think will ever be broken.”
The Isner family’s dog, a cocker spaniel, is named Magill Isner. The 25-year-old Isner wore a faded red University of Georgia t-shirt before and after the epic match.
“He’s just Mr. Perfect,” Magill said. “He’s very popular with everybody. And fair and square in everything he ever does.”
Isner’s coach at Georgia, Manny Diaz, played for Magill. Diaz gathered in a dorm lobby with about 65 kids attending a summer tennis camp to watch the match’s conclusion today.
“It was just a lobby full of people,” Diaz said in a telephone interview. “It was great for everybody to be able to watch history in the making.”
Diaz said he was not surprised Isner was involved in the marathon match. At the 2006 indoor national championships, Isner strained the arch in his foot and “literally could not get out of bed,” Diaz said. After helping Isner into a van and bringing him to see a trainer, Diaz was preparing to put a substitute into the match.
“He looked at me and said, ‘I’m playing. I am not missing this match,’” Diaz recalled. “We certainly have seen him accomplishing some things that are mind-boggling.”
A hobbling Isner defeated Pedro Rico of Pepperdine University in straight sets that day as Georgia went on to claim its first national indoor team title.
“It gave us a huge boost and we could not have won that match without him,” Diaz said. “That’s just the kind of guy he is. The odds really don’t count with John.”