The famous UGA man Isner makes the ATC a hot commodity

Fans were insufficient protection against the big heat. (M. Bradley photo)

Fans were insufficient protection against the big heat. (M. Bradley photo)

If you want an inaugural tennis tournament to become a hot (pun intended) item, you can hope for no more than the presence of the most famous Marathon Man since Dustin Hoffman. You can hope for no more than having the towering John Isner, illustrious former Georgia Bulldog, grace your event with more of his endurance work.

“We’ve lived a little bit of a charmed life the last month,” said Bill Oakes, the tournament director of the Atlanta Tennis Championships. Since Isner’s epic Wimbledon defeat of Nicolas Mahut — it carried over three days, ending June 24, and lasted 11 hours, five minutes — the first ATC had been able to bill as the venue for Isner’s homecoming, and folks around here tend to like their Bulldogs.

Heck, even Oakes, who’s a Tech man, likes this Bulldog. And he should: Isner’s participation has taken this modest tournament — only one of the world’s 18 top-ranked men took part — and rendered it locally relevant.

“It certainly helped [the ATC] that John was able to take tennis off the sports pages and put it across all media — the lifestyle section, Letterman,” Oakes said.

Isner will play in Sunday’s final after another great escape. He needed two hours and 29 minutes to dispatch Kevin Anderson on the hottest day in the history of humankind. Think it wasn’t? ESPN reported that the oncourt temperature ranged from 114 degrees, which is a blast furnace, to 147, which is Satan’s rec room.

(Personal note: After observing the first two sets from courtside, this correspondent noted that his iPhone was flashing a warning — it could not be accessed because of “overheating.” The Apple product is indeed a smart phone.)

As Isner was trying to close out Anderson in straight sets, he paused before serving and gestured to the heavens. He wasn’t asking for divine intervention. He was urging an oncoming cloud to hurry up and blot the sun.

“I’ve rooted for clouds before,” Isner said, and he needed this one badly. He had sagged in the second set, which he lost in a tiebreaker, but the arriving coverage overhead and the hugely pro-Bulldogs crowd carried him through.

Fittingly enough, Isner notched match point just as sirens were sounding a  storm warning. Not that Isner was about to stop in the middle of his serve. “I was just trying to get the heck off the court,” he said, and finally he did, drama again in his wake.

And the ATC, which was franchised at the late-late date of Dec. 17, 2009, needed a good show. Said Oakes: “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” and early reviews have been positive. Both the Friday and Saturday night sessions were sold out, and Isner drew a near-capacity crowd of mad Dawgs to his almost-noonday semifinal match.

Said J. Wayne Richmond, general manager of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Open Series: “I knew [the event] would be really good. I didn’t know it would be awesome.”

It had been nine years since last a professional tennis tournament — as opposed to a one-shot exhibition — graced this city, and that has always seemed passing strange. Drive down any Atlanta street and you’ll pass 10 SUVs en route to an ALTA match. But the ATC could be around for a while. Oakes said the event will be back here next summer, if not exactly “here” here. (The Atlanta Athletic Club plays host to the PGA, one of golf’s Big Four, in 2011 and might not have space for both pro sports.)

But you have to figure ours is a big enough city to find a place for John Isner, who worked 516 fewer minutes Saturday than he had those three legendary days in London. Afterward he was asked which was tougher — this match or Wimbledon. And he said, “Probably Wimbledon.”

Probably, the man said. Probably.

52 comments Add your comment

william cranman

July 24th, 2010
6:08 pm

Great column Mark. Saw the match on TV down here in Tampa. I think Isner may crack the top 10 in the world rankings this year. His game looks complete. Your thoughts? First?

Dawg House

July 24th, 2010
6:36 pm

Wow, I can’t remember the last time Mark Bradley made it through an entire column without insulting the citizens of Atlanta, Braves,Hawks,Dawg or Jacket fans, or their coaches.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Go UGA Football!!. Go UGA Football!! said: GoDawgFootball says The famous UGA man Isner makes the ATC a hot commodity: Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)If … http://bit.ly/9pVr8k [...]

Gordon

July 24th, 2010
6:44 pm

The ATC is a microcosm of the real world. Lots of Bulldogs, but a Tech guy in charge.

Mark Bradley

July 24th, 2010
7:10 pm

Kudos, William C. But honesty compels me to say that you surely are a bigger tennis expert than I am.

[...] 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3 to advance to the Atlanta Tennis …Isner advances to Atlanta finalESPNThe famous UGA man Isner makes the ATC a hot commodityAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Isner Advances Past Kevin Anderson, Into Atlanta Tennis FinalAHN [...]

Erk

July 24th, 2010
7:17 pm

Yep, Gordon, Tech will always envy UGA. Our tennis domination of Tech is way beyond football. Georgia’s tennis record against Tech? 50 wins, 1 loss.

MonticelloDawg

July 24th, 2010
7:19 pm

A non-expert opinion on Isner’s game- he needs to continue to work on his ground strokes, which I believe are below par for pro players of his ranking. His serve can keep him in most matches. I have noticed an abnormal number of tie-breaker sets when you see his scores in the paper. He is very hard to break, but also has trouble breaking others, hence the tie-breakers.

Also, tennis lovers should check out the college game as played in Athens. Dan Magill built a monster program, and Coach Diaz has carried it forward. Six matches going on at once, lots of action. I enjoy especially the NCAAs when at UGA.

Gordon

July 24th, 2010
8:07 pm

Erk,

Yes, your athletic program is amazing. And still the Tech guy is the one in charge of the tournamnt. Go figure.

Scott

July 24th, 2010
8:10 pm

Uga may bring in more revenue football wise but GT blows the doors off UGA in grants and endowments. Were talking billions versus millions for uga.

ANGRY HAWK FAN

July 24th, 2010
8:28 pm

i was there his game is complete i can tell you from a chamagne table

GoDOGS1

July 24th, 2010
8:43 pm

Gordon- It IS sort of unique for UGA people having to pay money to a Tech guy to manage a tennis tournament. Usually, we just tip the Geek Squad guy after he coordinates all of our electronics to one remote control. Amazing work you guys do. Really!

Sven Ottke

July 24th, 2010
8:45 pm

So I settle in and watch Roddick on the tube in Atlanta last night and sure enough, the UGa fans embarrass themselves there too. Amazing yet not surprised.

B-Sure

July 24th, 2010
8:48 pm

Saw Isner on Wednesday and think that Monticello Dawg is spot on is his assessment of Isner.

Sven Ottke

July 24th, 2010
8:54 pm

I see this paper hs relegated itself to screening tennis comments now too. Pathetic.

historydawg

July 24th, 2010
9:09 pm

why aren’t the tech people comparing salaries, as they ramble about who is in charge? Something tells me that Isner makes more than Oakes and that the NCAA championship in Athens is the most important tennis event in the state. Losers with an inflated sense of self-worth are amusing. i am actually surprised the tech posters can even use the word “microcosm” correctly. ha. the jackets will always live in holes in the ground. 50-1

Gordon

July 24th, 2010
9:32 pm

Just relax, Dawgs. I’m just kidding around. But historydawg I do think Isner makes a lot of money because of his tennis game, not his UGA degree (not that a UGA degree can’t get you a nice income).

Good luck to Isner in the final. I think it is impressive he played doubles after that match today. Most guys would have taken the rest of the day off.

Duluth Dawg

July 24th, 2010
9:43 pm

Gordon,
This shows how misinformed you are about pro tennis. The Tournament Director for an event like this is a glorified “shoe shine boy” for the pros in the event. He makes about $50,000 while a pro like Isner will make well in excess of $1 million this year. The Tournament Director makes sure that the hot star (isner) has his favorite hotel and complimentary car. So who works for who here genius???

BTW, where is Tech’s pro in this event. Oh, I forgot, Tech can barely field a men’s team and has a 1 for 50 record against UGA in men’s tennis.

So, the situation here is typical. Tech guy thinks he knows it all, but is arrogant and misinformed. Tech guy shines the UGA grad’s shoes with UGA out earning Tech grad. See you in November. Buzz…..SWAT!!!!!! THWGT!!!

wxwax

July 24th, 2010
10:31 pm

We were there on Wednesday and baked in 93 degree heat. A lady passed out in front of us.

I can’t imagine sitting in those bleachers on a 96 degree day. Unbelievable heat.

I have to think that if there’s anything that will discourage top pros from coming here in the future, it will be the heat. It’s really, really hot.

Which is a pity. The Atlanta Athletic Club has done a nice job with the event. Even if me and my buddy did both ruin our shorts because the bleachers had wet paint on the seats (still waiting for that contact info for the bleacher company, Atlanta Tennis Championships.).

alan

July 24th, 2010
11:32 pm

Just a little bit touchy these days, aren’t you, UGAy fans? Taking things a little too seriously after the ex-AD’s romp in the hay with the red-panties-clad groupie? Life really sucks (no pun intended….) to be a UGAy fan these days, doesn’t it? That said, your tennis program is great, and something that most schools envy, with good reason.

However, that says nothing about your imbecilic, childish, hateful, immature and idiotic bandwagon fans (which includes many students and alumni) who spew venom and hate about us GT fans and our beloved Institute. Of course, that sort of vitriol is symptomatic of envy and low self-esteem. Keep on drinking the Kool Aid and believing you and yours are superior to GT because of your supposed athletic superiority.

Did you ever stop to think that the better athletes choose your school BECAUSE it’s easier than GT? Did you ever wonder how in the world HOUSEHOLD KITCHEN TECHNOLOGY could be a university-level course? It could only happen at a school like UGAy. While some of your athletes are struggling with that type of course, some of ours are studying Aerospace Engineering. How’s that for a contrast? So next time you want to make a disparaging comment like some on this blog today and many others before today on other blogs, think about that before you open your foul mouths.

Tired Of It

July 24th, 2010
11:55 pm

It never fails…, Ga Tech and UGA supporters, everyone else reading these comments are sick and tired of all you guys! UGA this and Ga Tech that. What a load of crap. Neither one of these schools have done anything in the near or distant past, much less the present and who knows about the future. You guys all sound like B level geeks, who run their mouths when the big boys are not around!!!! Is this all your education make you capable of doing!!!! Sheesh, YOU GUYS NEED TO GET A LIFE!!! Neither one of you run anything in this state, but your mouths!!!

tree rollins

July 25th, 2010
12:13 am

It’s just good to see ANY tennis tournament in Atlanta. It’s insane that Atlanta has had no tournament all these years. Makes you wonder what’s the matter with Atlanta as a sports town in general? Everyone in this city seems to go to NY for the US Open. I was not impressed with the lack of promotions for tickets to this tournament but I guess they didn’t need any as attendance has been good anyway. But I’ll have to say Andy Roddick is the big draw here – not Isner though he helps.

tree rollins

July 25th, 2010
12:15 am

Oh and by the way, what ever happened to that big promise in the Atlanta Olympic days that our Stone Mountain tennis stadium built just for the Olympics would draw all sorts of tennis events here?? I guess that was just the first of many lies pawned off on us why we needed the Olympics here – right?

tree rollins

July 25th, 2010
12:30 am

Thought I saw William Andrews at the event today. If so it’s good to see him out of jail making the rounds in the community again! Anybody else notice him at the event?

Tired Of Whiners

July 25th, 2010
12:41 am

Hey ‘Tired Of It’ – you come across as being just as pathetic as the people you are criticizing. Where exactly are YOU from that makes you so special? Who exactly are these ‘big boys’ you seem to claim partnership with? And if you are so ‘Tired Of It’, why are you wasting the valuable time from your own special, super important life by commenting in return?

It’s not an accident Bradley referenced John Isner’s UGA ties in his headline – the AJC knows who their audience is composed of, and a friendly local rivalry on these message boards is simple fun for many people. If you don’t like it, stop reading the messages.

What I’m ‘Tired Of …’ personally is people who come to this area from other places (as you must be) and do nothing but criticize what you see and hear. Here’s a news flash – Atlanta is a crossing point of 3 major interstates – if you’re so ‘Tired’ of what people here choose to think, say and/or write, pick an interstate out of town, start driving and don’t come back. I assure you, none of us will care.

And BTW, I’m a Georgia grad and my son goes to Tech. I’m a fan of both schools unless we’re playing each other, and am proud of it. Not all people from either school fall into the category of the people posting the comments you take exception to. Grow up, buy a clue and get a life yourself jerk.

Tired Of It

July 25th, 2010
1:36 am

Tired Of Whiners…, the jerk is you and the people like you that continue to use these blogs for the same old b.s. day in and day out. It doesn’t matter where i went to school, to be tired of this. If you’re a grown man with kids in college, then you would have to be at least 45-50 yrs old, why are you encouraging this mess? It would seem as though you and people of your age would be above all this trite name calling, and my school is better than your school, when neither school has done anything in athletics in quite some time. There’s nothing wrong with being supportive of your school, or any team you support for that matter, but this juvenile name calling each and every blog that mentions uga or tech is just flat boring and stupid. If you want to brag and boast, then have something to brag and boast about. And neither of the two schools does! If you don’t like what i said, then you should be able to understand what i and others think of all this s.o.s. every blog.

Tired Of It

July 25th, 2010
1:42 am

Tree Rollins…, can you tell me whatever became of John Drew, and how’s he doing? And any of the guys that played so well in the old Omni!! We never hear anything about a lot of these former players, and they need to know theres still a lot of love for these guys in the A.T.L. Cliff Levingston, Antoine Carr, Spud, John Battle, etc. etc.

Jen

July 25th, 2010
4:58 am

“Tired Of It” must be a Bama fan, I guess there are no newspapers in that state….And Bama has been relevent forever, in all sports….
Jeeezzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gordon

July 25th, 2010
6:42 am

I hope you get your anger issues worked out DuluthDawg. Read my post right above yours. Sounds like you have self esteem issues.

alan

July 25th, 2010
7:13 am

Tired of It:

If you’ve been around the A.T.L. as long as you say you have with your fond memories of the older Hawks, first of all, it’s the ATL, not the A.T.L.. Second, you have such love for those Hawks, but what did they ever do? Yes, they went to some playoffs, but they never played in a national championship game, like the GT basketball team did in 2004, or even a league championship game like the GT football team did last year. And that does even begin to cover all the baseball and golf and tennis championship games and matches that both GT and UGAy have played in over the last 20 years. Why don’t you get your facts straight before you start running that big mouth of yours.

If you don’t like the “good old fashioned hate” on display in these blogs between us and them, then you can just bite me, and while you’re at it, just stop reading anything connected with GT or UGAy, because it always devolves into these kinds of free-for-alls between us. It’s never going to change, and people like you with your high and mighty attitudes can’t do a thing about it.

Atticus

July 25th, 2010
8:35 am

Problem with this event is it is very early in the series (1st event) and doesn’t get the top names. Atlanta has been starved for tennis and got a nice story in Isner and Roddick did sign up, so the fans did show up. But long-term it is going to have problems if the USTA can’t develop top 25 US talent. People won’t keep paying fr Robbie Ginepri and Mardy Fish. American tennis is dying (professional) and nobody wants to talk about it and why and solve the problem. When Roddick retires the days of American tennis (Connors, Mc, Sampras, Agassi, Chang, Courier, Martin, Roddick…) winning Grand Slams will be virtually over unless something fundmentally changes. Isner could possibly win Wimbledon when Fed and Nadal are gone but its doubtful he could go 2 weeks at that level. I hope there is some 12 year old out there but given the track record of the USTA developing top Americans, it is not very likely. And why weren’t the Bryans playing here? They played here years ago when they were kids and given a chance—they were playing team tennis. This is doubles town USA. What a joke…if that is not a small example of how mismanaged the sport is.

Kudos to the tournament this week.

Roger

July 25th, 2010
8:54 am

It would be nice if he turned his cap around to show a little respect for the game, and not look like some “backwards hat punk” which, in reality, belies a low self-esteem and cries out LOOK AT ME!

GoDOGS1

July 25th, 2010
10:01 am

Tired Of It – Sorry you feel the way you do. Hello? Did you happen to catch the title of the artcle ” The famous UGA man Isner makes the ATC a hot commodity”? This is an automatic invitation for GT fans to give us hell and vice versa. You see Gordon(most GT fans)and I(most UGA fans) understand each other…in a clean, old-fashioned hate manner 1893 that you will NEVER understand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean,_Old-Fashioned_Hate

As Lewis Grizzard said “Delta is ready when you are”!

GoDOGS1

July 25th, 2010
10:02 am

sorry…since 1893

Pi$$onaDawg

July 25th, 2010
10:20 am

The only thing I don’t get about Isner is how is the going to last if he keeps playing a 2 match time length to win 1 match. The poor guy needs to put them away faster or he will burnout at some point in a Turnament. As Tall and Long as the guy he can cover the court so easy. Hope He puts away the competition early today in this heat. Go ex-Dawg.

Damon Evans

July 25th, 2010
10:28 am

Too hot to fish, too hot for golf and too cold at home……..

db

July 25th, 2010
11:32 am

nice try “tired of it”. these college sport fans are nuts. something tribal, I guess

tree rollins

July 25th, 2010
11:36 am

Top tennis pro and ALTA legend in Duluth Jay Boettcher says he could fix Andy Roddick’s game in about 30 minutes by having him not stand 6 feet behind the baseline to receive serve. Wonder what Brad Gilbert would have to say about that?

Vince Young

July 25th, 2010
11:39 am

I will let you all have that heat. No way anyone should be out there.

Buckhead Bulldog

July 25th, 2010
11:39 am

POAD- Once a Dog, always a Dog. : )

Vince Young

July 25th, 2010
11:49 am

tree rollins: Not sure who Jay Boettcher is but he probably needs to work on his own game first. Maybe Roddick can help him.

NewnanDawg

July 25th, 2010
1:07 pm

First, a big congrats to Isner on making the final. Unfortunately for him, we were at both sessions yesterday, and Fish was on fire. Roddick was error prone all week, but Fish was painting lines and taking it to him. I do give Isner the advantage with the heat though, because he played day matches all week, and Fish was able to play in the evening. It felt like a 30 degree difference just watching the matches late vs. early, the court temp probably changed at least 40. For real tennis fans, the doubles was a real blast to watch. We caught most of Isner/Blake playing together before heading over to the Roddick/Fish match, and that was some high intensity, fun to watch stuff. Two tiebreaks – doesn’t get much closer than that. Anyway, although I’ve been an Isner fan since watching him at UGA, Fish is a great guy as well who has really busted it to come back from knee surgery last year, so I just hope to see a good match today.

Go Dawgs!

Duluth Dawg

July 25th, 2010
1:14 pm

Gordon,

No issues whatsoever with my self-esteem. Thanks for your concern. In fact, I have a very successful career with a great family. I am just tired of the arrogant Tech fans acting like all UGA grads work for you jerks. Your mental and academic snobbery gets old. I guess you guys have to rely on something because you sure cannot compete on a regular basis athletically. Take care.

Pi$$onaDawg

July 25th, 2010
1:25 pm

Buckhead then are you saying DAMON can’t be trusted around women while he is married? A dawg is always a dawg then and a Drunk is always a Drunk right? When I was a child I did things as a Child, but when I became a Man I did things as a Man. Isner is a UGA grad and a uga fan maybe, but he is no longer a dwag. He is an EX-Dawg. Hines Ward is an EX-DAWG but he IS a Steeler.

Coffee Bluff DAWG

July 25th, 2010
1:37 pm

Watched John play many matches in Athens during his time as a Bulldog. Led UGA to the National Championship in 2007 and has a legit shot at a Major in the next couple years.

GOOOOooooo DAWGS – Sic ‘em, Woof Woof Woof!

Erik

July 25th, 2010
2:12 pm

Enjoying reading all the comments here about the ATC event. The organizers must be commended for pulling off such an event in less than a year which speaks to how much ATL loves tennis. But having said that, despite Isner’s “instant celebrity” due to his Wimbledon win and local Bulldog appeal, if Andy Roddick hadn’t shown up last minute, the event would have seen a lot of empty seats. Isner does have the potential to be top ten, but he has not yet defeated a top five player yet. He could do it, but he will have to improve his return game and perhaps serve and volley more.

Also, just curious, but how much interest would there be if a WTA event showed in ATL? I know Charleston is popular but would people show up to watch top 20 WTA pros if none of the big names (Sharapova, Clijsters, etc. didn’t appear)?

wxwax

July 25th, 2010
2:16 pm

Hope for clouds today. Otherwise, it’s going to be brutal.

ps Add my name to the list of those tired of people hijacking a tennis thread with juvenile UGA-Tech bickering.

Coffee Bluff DAWG

July 25th, 2010
2:20 pm

Also, hope for clouds in final. It’s 97 & high humidity in SAV now and not fit for afternoon tennis.

Pi$$onaDawg

July 25th, 2010
3:18 pm

If this level of heat continues, all Football games in the South between Aug. to Oct. 1st need to be moved. Make Saturday morning Kicks @ 9 am or Saturday Night not before 7 pm.
The Tennis Players are in shorts and this heat is crule and unusual punishment.
Win ISNER.

Not Don Waddell

July 25th, 2010
4:24 pm

Pretty funny that Gordon showed the typical ignorance of a Gtu man.

While it is nice that the Gtu grad was allowed to be in charge of this small tourney, as per usual, it is a UGA man ultimately pulling the strings.

Gordon Smith is the CEO of the USTA. UGA Alum. Runs all the tournaments in the United States.