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To give back to an institution that he credits with saving his mother’s life, America’s top-ranked men’s singles tennis player John Isner returned to his hometown of Greensboro on Saturday, February 7th for his annual tennis exhibition event.

(L to R) UNC Lineberger member Dr. Ben Calvo, host John Isner, UNC Lineberger Director Dr. Ned Sharpless, James Blake

This was the fifth year that Isner has hosted the Ebix Charity Challenge to benefit the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Isner’s mother, Karen, was treated for colon cancer at the N.C. Cancer Hospital, UNC Lineberger’s clinical home in Chapel Hill.

“They do amazing things,” Isner said of UNC Lineberger. “They saved my mother’s life, they’ve saved so many other lives. Our family is forever in debt to them, and I’m so fortunate to have a lot, a lot of good friends come out and help.”

Isner is the top-ranked American men’s singles tennis player, and is ranked No. 18 in the world on the Association of Tennis Professionals world men’s singles rankings.

He was joined Saturday by his friend, tennis player and author James Blake, Olympic gold medalists and top-ranked doubles players Bob and Mike Bryan, and tennis coach Wayne Bryan, the Bryan brothers’ father who also served as emcee of the event.

Karen’s surgeon Dr. Ben Calvo, director of the UNC Gastrointestinal Multidisciplinary Oncology Program, spoke at the event, along with UNC Lineberger Director Dr. Norman Sharpless.

The challenge featured a youth tennis clinic at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center, a pre-match reception at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Alumni House, and exhibition tennis matches. A VIP autograph reception rounded out the day’s events.

The challenge has raised significant funds for UNC Lineberger to date. Isner continues his fundraising efforts for the cancer center through a Crowdrise web site. For more information, please visit