There was a nice article about John Isner in the Winston Salem Journal written by John Dell. In the article Isner talks about the important connection that Isner has to his hometown, Greensboro NC, and how that keeps him coming back to the Winston Salem Open. However the article opens with one rather surprising announcement. It declares that John Isner, all 6’10” and 240 lbs of him, is the face of American tennis.
This caught me completely off-guard. Sure, the current men’s tennis scene has been dominated by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal with little bits of Andy Murray and Roger Federer mixed in, but it had not occurred to me that our leading American men’s player might be Isner.
What happened to Andy Roddick? Oh yeah, he retired after not quite meeting expectations on the tennis court, but blowing them away off of it.
Isner has 8 ATP titles to his credit, but he has never been an important factor in a major unless you count the time that he and Nicolas Mahut tried to play each other into the ground in the first round of Wimbledon for 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days.
For Americans to support tennis it helps to have Americans who are good at it, and there are a paucity of those at the moment. Isner picked up tennis because of Courier, Chang, and Agassi. I hope there are boys who are playing tennis because of Isner, but I very much doubt it.
On the women’s side the problem exists too, where the fate of American tennis still hangs on the racket of Serena Williams. Sloane Stephens cannot grow up fast enough to help that cause out. A good or contending American tennis player would do more for tennis than anything else right now.