Long match astounds Isner watchers in N.C.

Staff WriterJune 24, 2010 

Almost 20 years have passed, but Shelby Cannon still recalls the Wimbledon tennis match that he and doubles partner Bret Garnett won in 1991.

"It went 15-13 in the fifth set, and I didn't think that one would ever end," Cannon said.

Now the tennis director at Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, Cannon joined the rest of the sports world in amazement that Greensboro's John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France went to 59-59 in the fifth set before play was halted because of darkness on Wednesday in a Wimbledon marathon.

"I can't imagine what something like that must be like," said Cannon, a Florida product who starred collegiately at Tennessee. "It's got to be one of the most remarkable things I've ever heard of. Thankfully, they both have big serves, so they probably didn't have to go through one long point after another."

Following the match with equal interest was former Broughton High and North Carolina standout William Plyler of Raleigh.

Plyler, 24, and Isner began playing against each other at age 12 in juniors. In 2002, Plyler and Caps teammate Brian Edmondson defeated Isner and his Page High partner in the high school state championship.

At Carolina, Plyler and teammate David Stone of Greensboro followed Isner's career at Georgia and into the pros.

"What John must be going through tonight must be something else," Plyler said. "I think the longest match I've ever played was something like 31/2 hours, and that's considered fairly long. They'll be going into their third day. It's incredible."

Plyler visited with Isner at last year's U.S. Open in New York.

"That was the day John beat Andy Roddick in five sets," Plyler said. "That was amazing enough. But this well, this is a match people will be talking about for years."

If, that is, the match doesn't go on for years.

caulton.tudor@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8946

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