Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Next Best Hope
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
Next Best Hope 07/17/2007 - 3:02 PM

It wasn't exactly Monte Carlo or Indian Wells; in fact the ATP Tour website doesn't even give the Futures tournament a more precise location than Ak. (Arkansas), USA. Nevertheless, Donald Young is not likely to forget the place because it is where he won his first tournament as a pro this past April. It was a USA Futures event, offering a mere $15,000 in prize-money, but a king's ransom in pride and self-respect for the prodigy. To say he has been through a lot is an understatement.


Young won the Wimbledon boy's title again this year - it seems like what, his 256th junior Grand Slam title? A few of us who cared (El Jon and Tom Perrotta of the New York Sun) caught up with him before the final to see how he's been doing. You'll remember that Young was last in the news in any significant way when a legion of pundits, including US Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, voiced objections to the way Young was being serially mauled on the pro tour.

The beatings occurred because Young, a dominant junior player and the United States Next Best Hope, was being showered with wild cards from tournament promoters eager to build a relationship with him, generate publicity for their events, and provide an obvious angle for Next Best Hope stories focused on the state of American tennis.

The low point, for Young, came in the early Spring of 2006. In back-to-back matches, he got four games off Tim Henman at Indian Wells and zero games from an Argentinian clay-court expert at Key Biscayne, Carlos Berlocq. Looking back on those misadventures on the big tour, Young told us:

I was the No. 1 junior at the time I was offered all those wild cards. I was being offered opportunities to play and it was a good experience - it was good to know and see those places and players. I took my lumps and went back to the Challengers and Futures, and I started winning matches again. I just wanted to take a peek - what'd I play, nine or 10 times? It was fun. I got to play and even though I didn't win a match I'm playing better now. It was great to get to know my level, to see where I stood. And I feel it has helped me in some simple things, like being able to play in front of a crowd. Keeping my head through a matches, playing in situations with a lot of pressure.

So the saga of Young Donald continues. He's a grizzled veteran of 18, with a game that has flummoxed his peers - the best junior players in the world. Yet it's very likely that a handful of those players will ultimately find niches on the pro tour, perhaps even as eventual winners of big tournaments, while Young may not. His game, as of now, lacks the single most important ingredient for success on the main tour: heft. For years, Young has carved up junior opponents with nice touch, angles, and trickly  left-handed spins. But in main-tour events, his has been overrun by bigger, stronger, more powerful opponents.

Young is a formidable junior competitor with loads of poise and an air of confidence and ease. That's worth a few games in every match. But it was different, right from the start, in the pros. On tour, bullying is coin of the realm. You either live in fear of another player, or, sensing his fear, try to destroy him. It isn't pretty, but it's the way it is; when Young played on the tour, the pros were eager to whip his uppity behind, and once they saw his game could be defused and his confidence could be shaken, even a rank journeyman became a regular Roger Federer. That history will trail Young; it will take a lot to reverse the pattern.

However, Young is working with USTA personnel as well has his official coaches, his mom (Ilona) and dad (Donald Sr.). And he's been climbing steadily in the rankings. He has achieved one ambition he hoped to realize before the US Open of this year, breaking into the Top 300 (he's currently 290). This adjustment of expectations has probably been good for Young; by going down to play Challengers and Futures, he accomplished something he was unable to do with all the wild cards he collected: put up wins over ATP pros, like Harel Levy and Kenneth Carlsen.

"I've beaten guys who have won a lot of matches, so I feel like I'm closer," Young told us. "Hopefully, I can win a Challenger."

Serving as a Davis Cup practice player for the recent USA vs. Spain tie in North Carolina also helped Young increase his resolve and confidence. "I got a lot of confidence hanging out with Andy (Roddick) and James (Blake), the Bryans (Mike and Bob, the US doubles team), Just hitting with them, at that level, helps your game. Getting used to the ball they hit and having to lift your own game to keep up with them improves you."

Young has steered clear of his junior rivals; he has no "best friend" on the boy's circuit and even his closeness with the US Davis Cup players - all of whom have expressed an interest in helping him along - is qualified. "Its just a little different when I'm 17 or 18 and they're, like,in their twenties. We're not really doing the hanging out thing. I'm trying to focus on my tournaments anyway, and I'm too young to go to clubs with them or anything like that. . ."

Young will play the US Open junior event -it will be his swan song, for he turned 18 in July and his eligibility  is expiring. If he isn't offered a main-draw wild card for the US Open, he may also play Kalamazoo (the US junior nationals), in an effort to secure one. For some players, a career is a continuum - the transition from the juniors to the main draw is smooth and relatively seamless. That probably won't be the case for Donald Young; one career is about to end for him, and another about to begin.

At Wimbledon, Young ran into Venus Williams when both of them went to the stringers to get some rackets done. "We said hello," Young reported. "But that was about it."

A few days later, While Venus was busy winning her fourth Wimbledon title, Young was battling Australian junior Greg Jones in the shadow of Centre Court, fighting Jones for the right to play top-seeded Vladimir Ignatic in the boy's final. "I was on court during the final," Young said, "So I didn't see any of Venus's match. I could hear it, though."

It's a long road to Centre Court, even for the most gifted of juniors.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Posted by Bismarck 07/17/2007 at 03:39 PM

is this the one who said things like "want to have a career like sampras...or better... win every grand slam...more than once"?

seems like he adjusted the perspective a bit. have never seen him play, but maybe in the future if he now has consistent progress and results?

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 07/17/2007 at 03:41 PM

I can't remember the source but it seemed credible so happy to be corrected, but I seem to remember that Young had plenty of advise, given his size and strength, to avoid the WCs and take a more conservative course to develop his game, including a year at university, before jumping in the shark pool. Part of the story was his parents /coaches were convinced that his success in the juniors would transfer easily into the pro ranks.

I am glad to hear he views the beat downs as just that - a failed experiment and is back working on his game and hopefully strength. I think he has a pretty steep hill to climb given his size and build but wish him luck in that effort.

Posted by DMS 07/17/2007 at 03:54 PM

Well interestingly enough, Sam Querrey seems to be plodding along at about the same age with less junior fanfare and some decent match results, taking his lumps..hmmm, but then again, Fed, Gonzo, Robredo, and Nalby made the jump from big time junior to decent is to hoping he breaks through. I feel for the guy and what he went through.

Posted by Tim 07/17/2007 at 03:58 PM

Young won Wimbledon again this year? isnt this only his second Junior Slam title? im confused about that first part, i know he's won a ton of USTA junior titles of course... great piece on a cool kid who I hope does well in the future...

Posted by Samantha 07/17/2007 at 04:00 PM

I think there is such a wide gap between being good in the juniors and playing well in the pros. Also, there is a wide gap between players who do well in college and those who actully become great players. Look at Vania King, she did well in college and after watching her play this weekend against the professionals, someone suggested that she stay in college. I think Young mistakes was trying to take a big step before the little baby ones which are important. If he went to college, then at least he would have something to fall back on, if it turns out that he can't make it in the pros which is a good possibility. I just think it's so important for athletes to have a career in case the tennis doesn't work out. Go Justine!

Posted by Paul 07/17/2007 at 04:07 PM

I think you've nailed it: the fear/confidence/bully thing.

There's nowhere to hide in tennis. Either you have "game" (skill + confidence) or you don't. If you don't, you're quickly exposed and exploited.

Lord knows I'm exposed and exploited on a regular basis on the court.

Posted by rain delay 07/17/2007 at 04:17 PM

I hope USA has more than one "next big hope", however when pros are interviewed, one often hears that they never lost in the juniors, then faced the harsh reality of getting beat every week in the pros. If he is lacking in 'heft' that is not a good sign. The guys are so quick now that touch and finesse is not enough--and if you dont have a big serve to get free points, the road gets even rockier.

Posted by cyandream 07/17/2007 at 04:33 PM

rain delay: There is Rhyne Williams who won a futures a couple of weeks ago. He's 16. I'm not sure what his pro vs college plans are. I assume he's remaining an amateur for a while so as to keep his options open. Which brings me to Samatha's comment about Donald. If I'm not mistaken he may have burned his NCAA bridge by turning pro.

Posted by rain delay 07/17/2007 at 04:41 PM

Of the american players that have make a name in tennis (say reached top 20), men and women, are most of them from college? For sure, I would say that is not the case in EU.

Posted by Or 07/17/2007 at 04:44 PM

Regarding careers and colleage - I honestly don't see the big issue here. Even if it takes Donald young 7 more years till the age of *gasp - 25! To figure out he would never be more than a, let say 150 in the world - that's still a VERY young age, he hasn't missed any boats if tennis isn't the career of choice for him, he can still do whatever he wants after that, plenty of living, learning and working to do.

Maybe I'm missing something, I mean - I know that in the states, especially - collage and higher education start as early as 18, but in Israel, for example - between 3 years of mandatory army service, a year to work and earn some money - and then waste the money on the traditional 7 month trip abroad :) - you start school much later, and it's definitly possible.

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 07/17/2007 at 04:47 PM

In the case of a promising junior not quite ready for the pros could not a year of university and coaching in the US be compared to a year or two in a national tennis academy such as exists in France, Spain and now England ?

As these guys need to make their move between 19 and 26, a full University career would not seem to be helpful but a year at an academy or on a team might prove helpful to bridge the gap.

Posted by cyandream 07/17/2007 at 04:49 PM

Tim, I'm with you. He's only won Austrailian 2006 and Wimbledon 2007, so I'm not sure where all these other major events are. Now, he's won boys Nationals at least once I think.

Posted by svelterogue 07/17/2007 at 04:51 PM

slowly but surely, donald, easy does it

Posted by Papo 07/17/2007 at 04:54 PM

Seems to me that Young is getting a bit behind the power curve. Isn't Del Potro 18 also and already playing in the pro circuit for a while now? Well, I have to admit Del Potro is big for his age.

Posted by Nicholas 07/17/2007 at 05:00 PM

It seems as though Young has really been able to change his attitude around after all those drubbings from the pros.

For someone to step away from the junior game (Wimbledon was his first junior tournament all year) and then step BACK in and say, "You know what, I still need to work on my game at this level," is an incredibly mature thing to do.

The fact that Young is saying things like "I don't want to go out to clubs with them," etc., is huge. This attitude change and maturity will help Donald go far in life, whether it be in tennis or otherwise.

Posted by frances 07/17/2007 at 05:05 PM

he's got to get stronger. end of story. he's too little. it's either muscles, law school, or a jan michael-gambill life.

Posted by JAG 07/17/2007 at 05:12 PM

With all the hype that was surrounding him, I paid my way to see his first ATP match, only to wonder after 50mnts of play "umm..okay..I don't think this ticket stub is not gonna fetch much in e-bay in 10 yrs". I hope I was wrong and in that case, I hope I will be able to locate that ticket-stub I discarded :)

Posted by Miguel Seabra 07/17/2007 at 05:24 PM

Hey Pete, are you ok?

This strory made me remember something: what happened to John Ross, a kid I think was winning everything in the US (12s, 14s 16s) in the beginning of the 80ies? Is he and John Ross the agent the same person?

In Donald Young's ATP resumé, what impressed me the most was him losing 6-0 6-0 to Carlos Berloq in Miami (the argentine's first ever win at ATP level, if I recall correctly) and then Berlocq losing 6-0 6-0 in the next round...

I hope the kid can go on and have a pro career he can be proud of.

Posted by Scott 07/17/2007 at 05:48 PM

Great post pete. I was at Indian Wells in 2006 when Young played Henman. He has amazing touch and hands, but his power was sorely lacking. Henman (not known for his power game) was able to push Young around like Young was a 16 year old boy (which he was). The sheer frustration Young was experiencing was evident. He was very unhappy.

So I am glad the wildcards have slowed and he is down in the minors honing his game and craft. And I hope he gets bigger -- when I last saw him he had the curse of being both skinny and short. If he can put it together he will be a joy to watch. It's nice to see a young player who is not the typical American grip & rip ball basher. Hopefully, he can create a place for success for his type of game on the tour.

Posted by Sher 07/17/2007 at 06:14 PM

I hope he does well in the future, but for now it's nice to see that a drubbing put some sense into him re: "win all grandslams at least once". I find that ego helps on the pro tour, but so does a touch of realism.

Posted by Jenn 07/17/2007 at 06:33 PM

Its really interesting to hear about this type of story, where you realize how difficult it is even for top juniors to make that transition. I think many fans of the game assume that a top junior would be a Can't Miss kid in the pros, but obviously there is still something big separating 18 year old Young from say, 19 year old Sampras (US Open Champion) or even an 18-year old Nadal. He seems like a good kid and I hope he will find that element to help him bully those bigger kids.

This also makes you step back and respect the top guys even more. A player like a Murray or Gasquet who are so young, only a few years older than Donald Young, take heat for not having "broken through" or for slumping somewhat, but they are top 10/15 guys in the world. These types of stories provide a nice perspective.

Posted by Ruth 07/17/2007 at 06:33 PM

With the wonderful Wimby Live, I was able to see and enjoy Donald Young's final and part of another match of his. But, no matter how much facial hair he grows, he still looks like a little boy --even next to some of his fellow juniors (like the kid in the final).

He must have a decent amount of power, in addition to his lefty finesse, to beat the other junior boys so often; but watching those spindly legs of his (at age 18) I couldn't help wondering how and WHEN he's going to develop the heft that he needs to compete with the really big boys.

Posted by M-Life 07/17/2007 at 06:38 PM

How big is the guy? Does he have another late growth spurt in him and gets to 6'-0? Or is he just not going to get any bigger? Michael Chang was small, so was Marcello Rios, maybe if stays small he can try to mimic their games, carve a niche for himself and have a nice career. Camille Pin?

Posted by Andrew 07/17/2007 at 06:38 PM

It's a bit of a glass half full, glass half empty situation: he's won a Futures tournament, which makes him a better player than approximately 99.9995% of men playing the game. But the other 0.0005%....

About a month ago, DM and I kicked around the entry point into the top 50 of players who'd spent a year in the top 10 during the decade starting in 2000. Average age was about 20: oldest was Blake at 23+, with Nadal and Agassi making it when they were 17 (Nadal cracked the top 50 for the first time in Aug 2003).

So Donald Young is a great tennis player in one sense of the word, but he's got a heck of a way to go before he can hang with the medium dogs, let alone the big ones.

Posted by Ruth 07/17/2007 at 06:43 PM

BTW I see absolutely nothing wrong with a future tennis player, even a very young one, saying that he hopes to win each Slam more than once. Now, if he said that he expected to do so at 16 or 18, that would be a different story. Most of the top players have talked about how, as kids, they dreamed of winning Wimbledon or RG or the USO or all of them when they became professionals. That's perfectly normal, I would think.

We really need to avoid putting down young players for their big dreams especially when we are often ready to put down those professional players (I won't mention any names!) who seem to be too content with the limited success that they have achieved on the Tours.

Posted by Scott 07/17/2007 at 06:49 PM

"He must have a decent amount of power, in addition to his lefty finesse, to beat the other junior boys so often"

Ruth, when I saw Donald he had some power. But when he tried to trade groundstrokes with Henman from the back of the court, he simply could not compete. And Henman kept him pinned to the baseline, so it was very difficult for him to manage his way to the net. Interestingly, Henman played the match almost exclusively from the baseline.

But Young's potential was evident. He knows how to play the game of tennis, and knows how to play it well. As for his size, he needs to add muscle. He's 18, so I doubt he'll get much taller (late growth spurt would be great), but he can get bigger and stronger. And I agree that he looks like a little kid. I saw him standing with his mother at a challenger (didn't see him play) last summer, and he looked so young it was hard to imagine him on the adult tour. I don't doubt that his mind has grown much as a result of his pro experiences, it's time for his body to catch up.

Posted by Colette Lewis 07/17/2007 at 07:06 PM

Vania King never played college tennis. She considered it, but turned pro last summer at the age of 17.

I'm fairly certain Donald is not playing Kalamazoo. He hasn't entered and the consensus is that he'll get a main draw USO wild card, although he is quick to note that he won't know for sure until next month. I think his playing the US Open Juniors depends on how he does with that wild card. As you know, I'm all for every eligible junior playing in my hometown tournament, but no one should have to win it three years in a row (that would be unprecedented in the 18s; Goldstein won it three years in a row--one in the 16s and back-to-back in the 18s).

Young is 5-foot-10, possibly 5-foot-11, but still has a boy's body. He may not ascend to Top Ten heights. But he is fun to watch. Peter's posted before about tennis DNA, there's no denying that Young has it.

Posted by Andrew Miller 07/17/2007 at 07:13 PM

The kid is a kid. And...if you are from the to own up to the fact that this kid is the best junior player we've had in a long time, and that includes Kid Querrey. Improvement is the bottom line in tennis. You either get better as a player, or you don't. Donald Young is facing that every time he enters a challenger or a junior event, and he's done everything everyone has asked for. As a fan I am happy to sit back and watch things unfold. It has worked for players like James Blake - I have no doubts that with a good attitude, good practice habits, and few injuries, Donald Young has a shot of surprising himself as a more complete player.

Posted by Pierre Des Joachims 07/17/2007 at 07:14 PM

Ruth: “We really need to avoid putting down young players for their big dreams..etc.”

Your point is quite sensible, like a lot of the things you write here.

It is true that it would help Young to be bigger and stronger, no doubt about it.

Or, regardless of how much bigger he gets, to hit the ball a little harder and a little deeper is the thing. Part of that is also just getting used to the higher pace when you move up a level.

Muscle mass doesn’t always translate into how heavy you can hit a shot: look at Federer, he hardly stands out as a brawny specimen, but no one can hit a more penetrating forehand than he does.

And even if Young doesn’t get much bigger, he has finesse, which is something that the other players won’t be able to gain as they get older. A finesse player may mature in results a little later than the brute power monsters.

But there is no reason Young can’t find a niche for himself, and do quite well. No one knows if he will or not, a lot depends on his focus and determination. Rios was only 5’9, and he was able to hit the ball hard enough when he needed to. Santoro is 5’10”, he doesn’t hit hard but he has had a great career. Heck, he just won a tournament. All of these guys get by on skill.

The real limiting factor is the serve, below a certain height there is going to be a real disadvantage, but from what I have read Young’s serve has improved a lot in the last year.

So let's give the guy a break, this is exactly the type of player I love to root for, a lot of people will be doing the same I think. So thanks for the post.

Posted by patrick 07/17/2007 at 07:31 PM

Let's hope Youg serve continues to improve so the US can have someone to fall on after ARod and Blake slows down. Also, what about Scoville Jenkins. Any word on his development lately?

Posted by Sahadev 07/17/2007 at 07:39 PM

If Santoro can do without heft, why not Young?

I guess he would need fitness and speed and mental toughness and incredible hand-eye co-ordination to compensate...

Posted by Pete 07/17/2007 at 07:41 PM

You know, more power to Donald. He has a tough row to hoe and whatever happens next should not diminish the fact that he was a Little Warrior, enjoying moments in a sun that shines on very few. I dunno, I'm feeling kind of melancholy this evening.

Posted by Scott 07/17/2007 at 07:47 PM

Patrick: "Also, what about Scoville Jenkins. Any word on his development lately?"

I think he was having a mediocre year -- but he won a futures in California last month, and he just beat Daniel Bracciali at Newport. Bracciali can be tough. I think he beat Roddick or almost beat Roddick a couple of years ago.

I've seen Scoville a couple of times at challengers. He has amazing speed and pretty good power. He also has beefed up his serve. I think he needs to work on his consistency.

Posted by Andrew 07/17/2007 at 08:19 PM


Instead of,
"beatings occurred because Young, a dominant junior player and the United States Next Best Hope, was being showered with wild cards from tournament promoters eager to build a relationship with him, generate publicity for their events, and provide an obvious angle for Next Best Hope stories focused on the state of American tennis."

Don't you mean, 'the beatings occurred because Young's advisors (parents and managers) allowed him to accept the wildcards offered by tournament promoters eager to, etc, etc'? Or, did you just want to pass the buck, not place blame where it is most richly deserved and try to build some bridges in case Young does make it ?

Posted by Christopher 07/17/2007 at 08:23 PM

Nicholas, you wrote:

'The fact that Young is saying things like 'I don't want to go out to clubs with them,' etc., is huge. This attitude change and maturity will help Donald go far in life, whether it be in tennis or otherwise."

Just to correct slightly, he said that he's not old enough to go to clubs with them, not that he doesn't want to.

I actually think it's NOT a good thing that he keeps himself so isolated from his peers and older players. Based on the article on him in the NYT a few weeks ago, he seems pretty sheltered and directed by his parents. Needless to say, this is not an unusual phenomenon in the world of tennis, but that doesn't mean it's a healthy one. And when it combines with "Next Best Hope" type of attention, things can get even worse. I'm not saying he should be out clubbing every night, but I'm pretty sure Roddick and Blake aren't doing that either. Getting out of the junior tennis/tennis parent bubble, however, is a good idea.

Posted by Ruth 07/17/2007 at 08:42 PM

Thanks for the kind words, PDJ.

I saw Scoville the year that he had one those moments that define "mixed feelings" -- happy to get his entry (via the Kalamazoo win, I think) into the USO, but certainly not happy that his first-round opponent was Roddick. However, he gave a good account of himself in that night match in the huge Ashe Stadium. A day or so later, I saw him play doubles with another young American on one of the outer courts. Quite good, I thought.

Whence this melancholy feeling, Petey?

Posted by gvgirl 07/17/2007 at 09:36 PM

Nice to hear a different perspective on Young. BTW- it seems like he has won a zillion junior majors but he only has 2- Wimby and the Oz open.

Posted by Andy Foreman 07/17/2007 at 09:47 PM

Off topic, but wondered if any of you tennis buffs know why Connors was #1 throughout 1977 and 1978 (except one week in 1977 to Borg), when

(a) Vilas did 16 titles including 2 Slams in 1977 to Connors' 7 titles and 2 Slam F? (Vilas had 3 of 4 Slams by AO 78, the ranking ought to have changed at *some* point)

(b) Borg had two Slams and a Final and 9 titles overall to Connors 1 Slam, 1 F and 10 titles in 1978?

Was there something fishy about the rankings in those days?

Posted by Backhand blaster 07/17/2007 at 10:03 PM

I saw Young's loss to Carlos Berloq in Miami. It was bad. It was quick. He didn't even win that many points. Oh well, he was 16...My critique of young Donald is not his size, but his lack of pop in his overall game, especially on his serve. And he doesn't strike me as a great mover, or even one who likes to "hustle" on the Nadal. Yet, tennis is a mental game and the kid must have something to win so often in the juniors and now futures. Let's see what he does next. Go Donald!

Posted by Jai 07/17/2007 at 10:49 PM

I've actually read that part of the story was that his family didn't think they could shoulder the expenses of being a junior without having him taking the wildcards and making some good cash (even first round losers can make $1000 or more).

Posted by Sher 07/18/2007 at 01:12 AM

What I meant is that people who get to the top are usually hungry and they are afraid. It's what keeps them wanting that next moment, the next crown, because it could be the last, you want it _now_. You can't relax and think that you have a wonderful future ahead of you, the grandslams will come. But it's nice to see a young player dream the big dream!

Posted by rgrace 07/18/2007 at 03:38 AM

I think Samantha nails it in spades. Young really should go to college. Heck, he could probably get a Stanford scholarship. That kind of thing is worth more than any number of wild-card entries to majors. he's nuts if he doesn't seriously think about it, and his advisors would be doing him a disservice if they didn't talk to him about it. He's totally cut out for that scene and he could grow into his body. 5'11" is plenty big for a tennis player.

Posted by almizan 07/18/2007 at 05:07 AM

Yeah, I have to admit I was really hoping this would be about Sam Querrey, great player also with huge upside who has some good results (although winning jr. wimbledon isn't a slouch thing either). I read JMac's auto-bio and he mentions how going to college really helped him mature not only as a person but as a player, and I agree that seems to be the biggest concern for Young. In college he could see a gradual rise of talent whereas he has been getting his butt kicked immediately in the pros. Plus, with all the comparisons in his and John McEnroe's game, as well as some of Young's quotes, it seems they are rather similar. I think college would have been the best decision, if only for a year or two.

Posted by DrD. 07/18/2007 at 07:28 AM

Couldn't he be the next Fabrice Santoro (Leander Paes or Ramesh Krishnan also come to mind) ? Santoro also had difficulties in his first years on tour, trying vainly to match other players' heft. He found success in his late 20's by going back to his true, lobbing, slicing, drop-shotting self. What's wrong with being Santoro ? If the devil came up to me and offered that I be santoro until I'm 35, then I would be an accountant for the rest of my life, I would sign up.

Posted by Andrea 07/18/2007 at 09:26 AM

I kinda watched Donald at Wimby a little bit. He seems good, but nothing eye-poppingly special. How old is he? 18? If so, he is in the same age group as Del Potro, Djokovic, Tsonga, etc. Young's a little behind. But not everyone is an early bloomer, despite the fact that the average age for a male to win his first slam is 19 or 20. Maybe less?
Another thing about Donald, he's like 5'9" 140lbs. That may be a factor, maybe not. As Lleyton and Chang have proven size does not matter too much.

Posted by Scott 07/18/2007 at 10:17 AM

Andrea: "Another thing about Donald, he's like 5'9" 140lbs. That may be a factor, maybe not. As Lleyton and Chang have proven size does not matter too much"

I disagree. Size in tennis matters very much. Hewitt and Chang are clearly exceptions. They are/were fantastic players but they are clearly not the norm in terms of tennis players and size. Saying that they proved size doesn't matter much in tennis is like looking at 5'4" tall former National Basketball Association player Muggsy Bogues's successful career and saying he proves size doesn't matter in the pro basketball. Being tall in tennis can be a big factor in serving, reach, and volleying. That a few players have excelled despite being small is a testament to their amazing abilities. But the fact that there are few, very few recent examples of small and successful tennis players is testament to the fact that height is a big and often necessary advantage.

Posted by Ruth 07/18/2007 at 10:58 AM

You've said a mouthful, Scott. The few exceptions to the need for height and heft only prove how important height aand heft sre in modern tennis. And we need to remember how sturdy Chang's legs were; his thighs and calves were bigger and more muscular than those of most of men on the Tour. Great speed is another factor that helps shorter players like Chang and Hewitt.

Posted by Heidi 07/18/2007 at 11:16 AM

I saw Donald at the Golfsmith promo event before last year's US Open and was genuinely surprised at how small and slender he was. He'll need more bulk, no doubt, but he can gain it, especially when he stops growing. Regardless, size isn't the only reason some people can't leap out of the junior ranks -- so I'm looking forward to seeing his progress. Good point, though, that Querrey is following a very different trajectory (but has already axed the idea of college; remains to be seen what Donald will do).

Posted by kloden2 07/18/2007 at 12:31 PM

I'm an avid reader of this blog and the comments, though not an avid poster, so it hurts me to say that the comments to this post are terrible. First, as Collete points out, Donald cannot go to college as he as turned professional. Second, even if college was an opportunity it is bordering the ridiculous to suggest that he should go. Here are a few results: Todd Widom, former top 5 (maybe no. 1 in NCAA's) 2 and 2; Straights over Warburg (Stanford); 3 sets over Izak (ODU Top 10 NCAA); Tiebreaker in third over Ram. He is not undefeated against former top college players, but he is already beating them more often than not and most of those guys already have 2 or more years on the tour; Donald would be a junior or senior in high school this year. It is impossible to say whether he will make it into the top 10, but one thing is for sure, he defenitely belongs in the pros.

Posted by creig bryan 07/18/2007 at 12:46 PM

Size matters?
How many Grand slams won by?:
Ivan Lendl
John McEnroe
Justine Henin
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
Marcello Rios(OK, none here, but size wasn't the roadblock)
Andre Agassi
Jimmie Connors
Rod Laver
Traci Austin
Michael Chang

Height makes a difference?
Number of grand slams won by:
Ivo Karlovic
Irina Spirlea
Brenda Schultz-McCarthy
Dr. Rene Richards(before or after)
Wayne Arthurs
The Green Giant
And so many others...

Maybe size matters in football.
Maybe height matters in basketball.

But neither size, nor height factors significantly in The Tennis.


Posted by Ruth 07/18/2007 at 01:17 PM

creig bryan: I cannot believe that you wrote that comment. It is incredible on so many levels, but I'll mention just two: (1) you certainly cannot be seriously equating the "size" of Donald Young with ANY of those players mentioned in your first list -- not even the "smallest" one (Rios); and (2) even if all those players were truly and significantly lacking in height and heft (vis a vis their fellow players),their number would still not compare with the much larger number of taller and heavier players who HAVE won numerous Slams in the modern era, so they'd still be examples of the exceptions that prove the very real rule.

Posted by Scott 07/18/2007 at 01:17 PM

To completely dismiss size in tennis is pretty remarkable. First of all, you've listed as short Lendl who is 6'2", Mcenroe who is 5'11" and Agassi who is 5'11". They're not exactly hobbits. You've ignored people like Federer (6'1"), Nadal (6'1"), Safin (6'4"), Roddick and Ferrero (6'0"). Obviously size is not the only factor in tennis, but it is a big one. Size without speed and talent equals no grand slams. Size with speed and talent equals many grand slams. And as you look at both the ATP and the WTA, tell me are the vast majority of the players short or tall?

Michael Jordan is much shorter than Shaq O'Neil -- and he was a better player than Shaq and has more rings. But that doesn't prove that size is not important in the NBA. And the fact that Mcenroe is shorter than Ivo, and is a better tennis player does not prove that size is not a factor in tennis. And I've never seen the Jolly Green Giant play, so I'll reserve comment on him.

Mcenroe -- 5'11
Lendl -- 6'2
Agassi 5'11

Posted by 07/18/2007 at 01:30 PM

No player of significantly below average height is in the top 50 on either the men's or women's tours. The average of the top 10 women is 5'9.7", taller than the average man and at least 4 inches taller than the average woman (probably more like 6 or 7 given that nearly half the world lives in China & India). The average of the top 10 men is 6'1", again 3-4" taller than the average man. If height makes no difference, men the size of Olivier Rochus should be as common among the top players as men the size of Roddick and Djokovic, just like they are in the general population.

As Scott says, size matters, it just isn't the only thing that matters. If Lindsay Davenport or Maria Sharapova had been the size of Justine Henin, they would never have made the top 10. Justine is able to compensate for her relatively small (actually average) size, with great speed and strokes that enable her to generate remarkable racquet speed, but she'd get even more if her arms were longer. That's just the way it is. There hasn't been a genuinely short player of any consequence since Amanda Coetzer.

Posted by superSnark 07/18/2007 at 01:48 PM

Size is a significant factor when considering a young player's potential in the pros. It affects the power they can generate, the range they can cover at net (i <3 lobbing short players), and their agility. Much like cars, shorter players tend to be more agile than taller, bigger players, but this pro is often outwheighed by the extra weight and racquet-head speed of the bigger players. I've only seen a few minutes of D Young, and he seemed pretty solid all-around and could move the ball well, but he had nothing insofar as power. In the pros, I doubt he'll be able to control matches enough to move his opponents around and dictate play, with little power and depth to his shots, he'll be pushed back playing retreiver alot, somthing I don't think he's used to.

Posted by creig bryan 07/18/2007 at 01:58 PM

> " they'd still be examples of the exceptions that prove the very real rule..."

Hunh? Exceptions to the rule, prove the rule? The sky isn't red, therefore the sky is blue?

Ivan Lendl was 6-2, but had no size (heft). We called him and McEnroe bird chests. Connors too. No bulging muscles. Like Donald Young.

Like Justine Henin, these players had no significant size. It didn't matter, did it? The NBA is chock full of tall players--it matters. Spud was an anomaly. Could Spud have been a linebacker?
I don't think so, because size matters in football.

If size/heft (or height) truly was a significant deal maker, ALL tennis players would be muscle-bound and/or or tall. There would be no Rochuses/Henins. Anywhere. Except Spud...

So to be clear: An agent/scout looking at a young tennis prospect, would not rule out the player because of (lack of) height, or Twiggy weight, the way an NBA(height) or NFL(heft) scout would.

Anyone (except Sumo Wrestlers and WalMart shoppers) can play pro tennis, and win titles.


Posted by 07/18/2007 at 02:02 PM

> "...I've only seen a few minutes of D Young, and he seemed pretty solid all-around and could move the ball well, but he had nothing insofar as power..."

Yes, but you don't need size or height to generate power. You need STROKE TECHNIQUE. Again, see Justine. Or, as it were, Go Justine.


Posted by Grant 07/18/2007 at 02:12 PM

"Yes, but you don't need size or height to generate power. You need STROKE TECHNIQUE."

I wonder if perfect technique on a larger person would generate more power than perfect technique on a smaller person?

p.s. I don't actually wonder this.

Posted by Scott 07/18/2007 at 02:14 PM

The term "the exception that proves the rule" is pretty common. It means that you need to find exceptions to make your point generally proves the rule that you seem to oppose. Justine is quite clearly an exception. It is such an exception that commentators comment on her lack of height about 500 times every time she plays. They make the comments about her height because it is so atypical.

You can look at the tour. You can look at the fact that the vast majority of female tennis players are much taller than the average woman. The vast majority of male tennis players are much taller than the average man. When someone shorter than average (like Justine or even Rochus) is successful there is much comment on it because it iss so unusual. When someone taller than average is successful (like just about every top 20 player) there is not much comment on it because it is not unusual. So I'm not going to continue to argue the obvious. If you want to ignore the obvious, by all means...

Posted by creig bryan 07/18/2007 at 02:15 PM

Grant: I'm very glad to hear that you don't actually wonder about this.


Posted by Man in the Moon 07/18/2007 at 02:40 PM

I have seen Donald Young play many, many times from the age of 11 in National and International junior events and in Pro circuit events.

Young has :great, great hands, great speed, knows all the angles on the court, has most of the shots, improved his serve but still needs a lot of work on both 1st and 2nd-

now for the bad news- no guts, no heart, no fight and he quits (you can only go so far without those very special ingredients)- not only for a point but sometimes for games at a time. This is not because of his age -- I have seen players as young as 12 who have gone on to become great top 20, even top 10 ATP pros and the fight,heart etc-that they had in the 12's and 14's went with them to the pros.

Unless Young can either find (fight, heart, no quit attitude)or develope it -- he has no chance-- the ATP will eat him for breakfast.

He has all the tangibles to be successful and that is probably why the "EXPERTS" think he will make a splash--

His tangibles were good enough in the juniors so he really did not have to work that hard.

It is a totally different ball game up with the big boys.

It remains to see if he can pull it off.

PRODIGY'S END was an article in the New York Times a few weeks ago and now SOME of the EXPERTS ARE SAYING WHAT I SAID 2 YEARS AGO.

Young's advisors don't have a clue. Young and his advisors don't know whether he is coming or going.

Young has been mishandled from the beginning. He was a great junior and America called him the King- the next great pro player -- and Donald and his gang bought into it --too bad for Donald and his gang-- what is he going to learn from beating up on some juniors -- that doesn't help in the long run -maybe in the short run-so what!!!

His handlers have not done a good job mananging his " PRO CAREER" as of yet--who knows where it will go. I personally don't think he has the goods to be a top 50 player-let's see what happens!!

The world remembers Federer for what he does in the pros not what he won in junior tennis (not even the junior slams).

Frankly, I don't think he will have much of a PRO CAREER (unless he changes what he is doing).

Yes, he had a great junior career-- if he can't convert that to a PRO Career-then where is he. Another guy asking "DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT BIG MAC".

Sam Querry and Roddick had better (mentors, mangament) than Young which is clearly proven in the results.

Since 1992 there have been less than 12 American players to make it in the pros. That is an average of less than 1 per year. Roddick, Fish, Ginepri were 3 to make in one age group. Gimelstob, Goldstein, Gambil were 3 in another age group. And of course the Bryan Twins.

Mike Russell very tough competitor has been a pro since '97 and has earned a total of $600,000 or about $60,000 /year -- without a college degree --where is he going?

My oringial comment was -Young is mis-managed - and up until this point -- you can't argue -concerning his pro career--where it goes from here-- not even the so called experts know or don't know.

Talk to me about Andy Murray or the kid from Serbia (Novak Djokoivc-ATP #6) who are 2 years older and have incredible results.

An old Southern saying--"Potential rain don't make grass grow" and that's how I see Young regardless of the experts- I don't think he has IT-- maybe he will find IT if he changes what he does!!! Don't bet on it!!!

Posted by Joe 07/18/2007 at 03:02 PM

For those who are comparing Young with Murray and Djokovic did, take a look at how he compares with them when they were turning 18. Djokovic was around 150 and Murray was around 400. Murray in particular was getting the same criticism that Young is getting, no power, spoiled brat, not a competitior, poor fitness etc. Young is by far the highest ranked professional born in 1989 and is I believe fairly close to being ranked higher than anyone born in 1988.

And those who think that two years in size and fitness doesn't make a difference have forgotten what it's like to be around that age. In the U.S., guys who came in with top USTA rankings or even ITF rankings usually don't even play #1 on their ncaa teams their first year. Remember how much bigger you were when you were a senior in high school vs. when you were a freshman or sophomore? To compare him with Djokovic or Murray right now is unfair. I'd say this about Young. He may not have "gotten it" before, but he is beginning to get it. He's up to 290, and I would expect will be around 200 by the time the US Open comes around. By the time he's 20, he'll be inside the top 100, and at that point we can see whether or not his lack of power, and inability to dictate play against top level pros harms him. At 18, only the players on roids, um er, fully physically developed can play with the top 100. Young is not alone in that regard.

Posted by anonymous 07/18/2007 at 03:02 PM

On ego vs realisim...if Donald and his parents were realistic he wouldn't even be trying to play tennis on the internatinoal level at all. There's a difference between realism and "hoping for the best, preparing for the worst." Imo. Nothing wrong with dreaming big as long as you can handle not achieving it--I think he and his family are working on that. But it's because he dreamed big and didn't let the real cost of trying to achieve his dream that he's had the success he's had so far.

Posted by anonymous 07/18/2007 at 03:06 PM

"But it's because he dreamed big and didn't let the real cost of trying to achieve his dream..."

Didn't close that thought: Should be read as "didn't let the real cost of trying to achieve his dream weigh him down"

Posted by Man in the Moon 07/18/2007 at 03:12 PM

all you points are well taken.

I am just saying he needs to change what he is doing.

Muarry would fight you to the death, even when he first started playing pro events.

Donald does not have that make-up yet and it remains to be seen if he will ever get it.. Usually you have that at an early age.

I saw Roddick play as a junior and he was very small, but would fight each and every point. He did not know what the word quit meant. When he grew to be over 6'3" and he is every inch of 6'3" and add his fight -- you have a ATP top 5 player.

Posted by Ruth 07/18/2007 at 03:49 PM

Don't be silly, creig. The concept that the exception proves the rule is as old as the hills. Just in case you really don't know what it means, the point is that a Rochus playing professional tennis stands out (i.e. is the exception) precisely because most tennis players are much taller than he is (the rule). If the rule were "top tennis players come equally in all heights, weights etc," no one would note and be amazed by Rochus or his brother's success. And note that neither he nor his brother nor any player built like Young has won a Slam recently.

But if you're going to suggest that 5'11" and 180lb men are lacking in height and/or heft, I won't bother to discuss anything with you.

Thanks, Scott and others, for adding the specifics that prove the point which I would have thought was clear to anyone who had looked at any tennis for even a short time.

Posted by Ruth 07/18/2007 at 03:57 PM

BTW I understand and respect the opinions of those who say that Young could or should be quite happy with a career like Santoro's. But, as I said last night, I also understand and respect the young man's aspirations, as he has stated them. And his aspirations and dreams involve winning Slams and, obviously, being a top ten player.

Posted by Sahadev 07/18/2007 at 05:46 PM

Ruth, not only that, but being a Santoro doesn't just involve having great touch and court sense. He needs to compensate for lack of heft with skill, speed and fighting spirit that are significantly above average, and he STILL can't be a top 10 player. Santoro is a genius, but despite all his assets he can't rise to the top in today's game.

For Young to do it, he would have to be something very special indeed. The hype has done him a huge disservice. He really is up against it, but best of luck to him...

Posted by 07/18/2007 at 06:10 PM

Allow me to quote myself, at 12:46, 1:58, and 2:02:

> "...But neither size, nor height factors significantly in The Tennis....

Anyone (except Sumo Wrestlers and WalMart shoppers) can play pro tennis, and win titles.

Yes, but you don't need size or height to generate power. You need STROKE TECHNIQUE...."

Ruth and Scott: Thank you for schooling me on the rule's exceptions. I can only agree that Santoro, Justine, et al are the exceptions. Under the same umbrella I would also include Ivo Karlovic and Marion Bartoli, two obvious exceptions, wouldn't you agree? In fact, it's these two exceptions that prove my point, as restated above.

If height were significant, the ATP would look like the NBA, and Ivo Karlovic would no longer be an exception.

Likewise, if heft conferred any real advantage, there would be no Justines, everyone would look like Serena (in 2003).

Keep Smiling

Posted by Celia 07/18/2007 at 06:57 PM

I don't understand why everyone says height matters in tennis. I'm 5'2" and I play. If you're shorter than all you really have to do is practice you're serve more than a normal player would and learn to take a few steps back if the ball looks like it's going to bounce high. If you let you're height be an excuse for how badly you play, I feel bad for you.

Posted by superSnark 07/18/2007 at 07:08 PM

'take a few steps back if the ball looks like it's going to bounce high.'

Oh Celia, you inadvertantly made the point you were arguing against. Whomever owns the center of the court tends to win, if u get pushed back, you can't attack as well, it's harder to hit your shots deep and your opponents angles pull you further wide than if you were playing right on the baseline like a little-known-player called Federer.

Posted by Celia 07/18/2007 at 07:19 PM

superSnark: what I had meant to say is that if you are at the NET and your opponent is hitting a lob to take a few steps back. And even if my opponent pushes me back, I can still gt the ball back. I don't know. Maybe it's just me.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 07/18/2007 at 07:35 PM

Any analysis of Young's career so far highlights the huge changes in what everyone considers an appropriate career arc for a tennis player in the United States.

Not so long ago (allright, the 1970s) there would have been no question whatsoever of Young attending college and playing on one of the top college teams. It didn't matter how many junior titles you won - Billy Martin and Scott Davis set records with over 20 national junior titles each -- you were still going to college for at least a year.

If, in that year, if you did something like win the NCAAs (as Connors and McEnroe did) perhaps you then turned pro and forefeited your amateur status, but basically the economics of the pro tour at that time were such that giving up free college was not seen as such a bring idea.

In my junior year, Peter Rennert played number one on the Stanford tennis team and had a ranking of 44 on the ATP computer. That's right 44. Playing tour events in sort of his spare time. McEnroe, I believe, set the record for the hightest ranking ever of about 18 on the ATP computer when he won the NCAAs.

So much for what I am sure of. Now to the hearsay. I know Peter Smith, the coach at USC very well. Apparently he was all set to have Sam Querrey attend USC, but Querrey decided to turn pro instead.

The alleged reason was sponsorship deals and wild cared arranged through Querrey's agent, which guaranteed some sort of minimum income. Obviously, a full ride to USC does not guarantee much in the way of income. The figure I heard was about $200,000 per year for a few years, five, maybe? Since turning pro, sam has won about 300K in a year and a half or so.

What intrigues me is this. Back in the day, the "tennis camps" of the U.S. were the colleges. There is no argument that collegiate sports do an excellent job, perhaps too excellent of a job, in preparing players for the NFL and the NBA. At one time, they did an excellent job of preparing U.S. players for the ATP tour.

Because women mature earlier physically, there was never much of a pipeline through college to the WTA tour, but not so on the men's side.

Anyway, I don't know exactly how much money Young has made by turning pro, but it better turn out to be quite a bit. He could have continued playing the juniors, and pro tournaments as an amateur.

A full scholarship to, say, USC or Stanford is probably worth at least 50-70K per year, plus the free tennis training.

It may not be obvious to Young, but if you have to actually pay for that its in after-tax dollers, so that's more like 100-125K gross needed per year.

To me, foregoing that to earn $300K before tax, of which you will spend at least 100K on travelling, and then another, say 70K in taxes, and then, you have no college education but only $100k net, well, its not exactly a slam dunk.

Yet, this is the modern assumed career arc. It would be different if Young or Querrey had been offered what some of these guys get in teams sports, a ridiculous $50 million or something.

Ironically, the NCAA teams are now filled with foreign players, who tried the pro tour from ages 17-22 or so, then, conveniently, take the colleges up on the scholarships that used to go to the best American juniors.

The rest of the world basically has no intercollegiate athletics, so they always HAD to "turn pro" at a young age.

I find it very interesting that the U.S. adopted the rest of the world model when the model we had here was working so well.

If Young had been born in 1960 instead of 1990, he would be the same age and size at 18, but he would have been like players such as Billy Martin, Scott Davis, Ben Testerman, Eliott Teltscher, and yes Peter Rennert -- a top recruit arriving at a big campus, full of confidence, and with no worries about being "too young" to go out to bars with Andy Roddick. He would not have been too young for all the sorority girls following the boy's athletic teams at whatever school he attended, that's for sure.

There would have been no N.Y. tims articles about "failing to live up to his potential." His confidence would have been unbelievable.

Posted by Nick 07/18/2007 at 08:23 PM

"...eager to whip his uppity behind,..."

Great article as usual, Pete, and I'm glad you looked into Donald's struggle to make it. However, you might want to rethink use of the word "uppity."

"Uppity" is a major MAJOR racial pejorative still used by whites to describe blacks who (they believe) are specifically "playing" in traditionally "white" arenas of all sorts--whether by playing a "white man's game," living in a "white man's neighborhood," attending a "white man's school," etc. So, you can see that, particularly in this context, "uppity" = poor word choice.

You intended nothing untoward in the least, 'cuz you are as good as the day is long, but the usage here is sorta glaring...and there "ain't two ways about it."

Posted by Man in the Moon 07/18/2007 at 09:10 PM

Dunlop Maxply

Sam Querry has earned a total of $331,571 since the beginning of 2006 (about 1 1/2 years). Included in that amout is $187,000 for the year 2007.

Donald Young turned pro in 2004 and has earned a total of $107,287( most of that money came in first round losses from being a wild card at big events). He is 0-10 on the ATP circuit. Inculded in that amount is $17,287 for the year 2007.

The NY Times article stated that Young EARNS ABOUT $30,000 FROM ENDORSMENTS PER YEAR- NOT THE MILLIONS PEOPLE THINK. The companies are not dumb--the only way the companies make their money back is if the player becomes a world wide name (wins Grand Slams, top 5 etc.)

As far Querry's endorsements or any one else -- when they say a player signed with Nike, Addias,Wilson, Reebok, is based upon performance with bonuses tied into achieving top 10, grand slam wins, etc. What the bonuses produce -maybe is travel money -approx $50,000-$125,000 per year for a short number of years (1-2 years). The newspapers then say a guy signed for $2,000,000 etc. but that is if they perform.

Posted by jhurwi 07/18/2007 at 09:26 PM

RE "the exception proves the rule": in this proverb, "to prove" is used in the sense of "to test, to put to the trial," not in the sense of "to establish, to show that something is good or true." Thus the exception "tests" the validity of the rule.
Both uses of "to prove" go back to the Middle Ages, but the Oxford English Dictionary gives "to test" as the original primary sense of the word.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 07/18/2007 at 09:28 PM


This sort of confirms something about the game we love which doesn't get spoken of much.

For all the talk about "big money in the game" the way that money is allocated is basically the worst of almost any professional sport.

If you rate sports by "can a reasonably good professional not work again for the rest of his life after retirment" tennis would get a very, very poor rating.

Posted by Tenniscan 07/18/2007 at 09:56 PM

I watched Young play at a Challenger last summer in California...he had no fight, or that was what I came away with from the match. The first set was close, and he lost his serve after being up 40-0 at 5-5 or 5-6 and basically folded. It was disappointing and I can't see him being a successful pro unless he learns to fight harder. He wasn't the only one at the tournament not fighting...not sure if it's that they have no plan B, were injured, inexperienced, but it was certainly several levels below the top players. You see a lot of shorter players at that level too, and slower ones...the ones who might have made it had they been bigger or fitter or stronger. It does take extraorinary will or talent and more work to succeed as a smaller player. Most become "doubles experts" in the end.

Posted by Man in the Moon 07/18/2007 at 10:01 PM

Dunlop Maxply

You are right on the money-- so to speak

Posted by KEITH SHAW 07/18/2007 at 10:11 PM

SOMEDAY I WILL PLAY AGAINST FEDERER AND be the next dominant junior player and the United States Next Best Hope. REMEMBER THAT!!!

Posted by Celia 07/18/2007 at 10:20 PM

Keith Shaw-Pffft. I'll believe it when I see it.

Posted by Andrew Miller 07/18/2007 at 11:48 PM

Still unsure why we have so much fun dumping on Donald Young. I remember watching Todd Martin at over age 20 at the French Open in 1991 and saying man, he better get going or it's over! And Todd Martin, hovering somewhere around 243 in the rankings, seemed to have a game going nowhere fast. But, here we are years later and saying, man Donald, fuggetaboutit. He is easily the best junior player the u.s. has seen since the big break out in the year 2000 with the rise of Roddick and his buddies. And the kid has done everything people ask of him:

"go play challengers!" (he did, didnt do bad.)
"go back to juniors!" (he did, winning junior wimbledon. You might say that pretty much nobody cares who wins junior wimbledon, and in that case the junior wimbledon winners are a pretty motley bunch - Kalogeropoulos and Scott Humphries anyone? But who else won wimbledon juniors? Well, none other than Bjorn Borg, Chris Lewis, Ivan Lendl, Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg, Leander Paes, Roger Federer, Gael Monfils. Who loses those finals? Chris Guccione, Mario Ancic, Ivan Ljubicic, Marc Philipoussis, Todd Woodbridge, and plenty of other players, plenty of U.S. players also).

So what's that say? It's settled.

Donald Young can be as good as Federer or as good as Kalogeropoulos.

He's gotten this far off some nifty shotmaking and has no shortage of critics. Hopefully all of this heavy scrutiny will help him turn into something special on the court. Seems like heaps of praise do no player any favors. If Donald Young keeps proving he can learn from the beatings, more power to him.

Posted by Ruth 07/19/2007 at 08:15 AM

jhurwi: Thanks for your comment on the exception/rule saying. Perhaps, it is mu age (old!) and my profession (English instructor) that made me assume that most people here would grasp the real meaning of the old saying. After seeing crie's strange reaction to my use of the saying, I actually googled it and found that some folk even interpret the saying as meaning that the existence of an exception shows that the"rule" is wrong!

Celia: I think that the focus of the discussion was on whether a height or heft deprived player is at a disadvantage in the competetive world of professional tennis. Of course, people who are tall, short, skinny, fat can play and enjoy -- and even have some success -- in recreational tennis.

Posted by ptgarner1 07/19/2007 at 10:04 AM

I was fortunate enough to watch Donald win in Little Rock. Physically he is a late bloomer and should improve dramatically in the next 24 months. His game was still the junior circuit with almost every Futures player outpacing him. He was very obviously relieved to get his first singles title and seemed like a very kind generous fellow. I struck up a conversation with his mother who was nice as well. As noted he has exceptional touch and court coverage. If he does gain physically it might complete the package.

Posted by Kirsten 07/19/2007 at 05:12 PM

Everyone focuses on his size, but with size 12 feet it's very unlikely that he'll stay small for very long. Strength and power will come. But to have touch and court sense at such a young age--that's what's important.

Posted by Man in the Moon 07/19/2007 at 06:33 PM


size is important but not as important as the following:

no guts, no heart, no fight and he quits (you can only go so far without those very special ingredients)- not only for a point but sometimes for games at a time. This is not because of his age -- I have seen players as young as 12 who have gone on to become great top 20, even top 10 ATP pros and the fight,heart etc-that they had in the 12's and 14's went with them to the pros.

Unless Young can either find (fight, heart, no quit attitude)or develope it -- he has no chance-- the ATP will eat him for breakfast.

He has all the tangibles to be successful and that is probably why the "EXPERTS" think he will make a splash--

His tangibles were good enough in the juniors so he really did not have to work that hard.

It is a totally different ball game up with the big boys.

Posted by kamret 07/20/2007 at 09:36 PM

If "small" players like Chang, Rios, Arazi, Coria, Grosjean, Clement, Rochus, and Santoro have been quite successful on the tour, then why couldn't Donald Young? Why are Americans always so obsessed with size and always believe that big is better (or small is worse)? This is such a dumb way of thinking! If all of the players I mentioned above made a name for them on the pro tour, then so can Young.

Posted by Man in the Moon 07/21/2007 at 11:36 AM


Young doesn't have Chang's speed, Rios's strenght, Arazi, Coria, Grosjean, Clement, Rochus, and Santoro guts, desire, or no quit attitude.

That is why Young is not in the above players class.

Size is not the only problem with Young.

Go check out Man in the Moon- July 18th time 2:40 for further info.

Posted by kloden2 07/21/2007 at 08:44 PM

Man in the Moon you just put Arazi and Coria in the "guts, desire, or no quit attitude" category that's not exactly a convincing argument. The kid is 18, and in the finals of a challenger. That is impressive. I don't care how pissed you are he beat your kid in junior tournaments; you have to give him that.

Posted by Man in the Moon 07/21/2007 at 09:45 PM


First and foremost, I call them the way I see them.

My kids were done playing juniors many, many years ago.

If you look at my comments about Young I give him a lot of credit for his hands, speed, smarts, angles on the court, etc.

It is not his height, it is his lack of fight.

Posted by Keith 07/22/2007 at 07:59 PM

Talent is important, and although I've never seen Young play it sounds like he's got a lot of it.

However, I saw Lleyton Hewitt play an invitaton only tournament in Adelaide when he was 16. From memory he beat a hot Andrea Aggasi in the semi, and in 2001 he became the youngest ever male number one. Hewitt isn't that talented; but his speed, determination and an never say die attitude took him to the top.

From what I've read here, Young just doesn't seem to have the necessary ingredient - inner fight - to be great.

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  The American Surface (OT), 7.18 Toasting Francesca  >>

Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646148 comments.
More Video
Daily Spin