Since being named the “Future of American Tennis,” Atlanta’s Donald Young has shown that he could dominate the Juniors, but has consistantly had his struggles on the ATP tour. In the April edition of Tennis magazine, the picture on page 9 says it all. The folded arms of USTA Training GM Patrick McEnroe and tennis guru Nick Bollettieri reflect their frustation over Young’s progress expressed in an article that blames his parents, Donald, Sr. and Illona, for the shortcomings. The Youngs have always taken great pride in the role they’ve played in Donald, Jr.’s development, that led to his becoming a professional at the age of 14. Now 21, Donald Young finds himself with a career high ranking of 73, two years ago, and is currently ranked 144. Some feel the window of opportunity to join the tour’s elite players might be starting to close.
With the exception of occasional workouts at facilities in Florida, Young has been trained by his parents at South Fulton Tennis Center in College Park, but it seems like that may be about to change. Donald Young, Sr. says starting next week Donald, Jr. will go to the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla., to work with Director of Coaching Jose Higueras as he prepares for the US Clay Court Championships in Houston. Donald, Sr. says this arrangement should last through the US Open and is anxious to see the results of doing things with more involvement from the USTA. Young also added that the article that seems like a slam of the Youngs for shielding Donald, Jr. from outside help has actually been a plus for them. I predict that with Jose Higueras at the helm and the Youngs there for support of their son we will see Donald Young make a rise in the rankings and hopefully be ready to be a factor at the Atlanta Tennis Championships in July.
Speaking of the Atlanta Tennis Championships, tickets go on sale Monday, April 5, for the ATP event that’s set for the Atlanta Athletic Club the week of July 19-25.
Tournament Director Bill Oakes of the USTA Southern Section was in the house last Thursday for the Racquet Rally Happy Hour at East Andrews in Buckhead. The event had two purposes. One is to establish a local place for tennis fans to gather to watch their favorite sports whenever a tournament is being played. With a growing number of area players now on the pro tours, that sounds like a great idea to me. The other purpose was to raise funds for Special Pops Tennis–a program that supports tennis for children and adults who are mentally disabled. Many of these athletes participate in Special Olympics and several of them were there. Also present were USTA National Diversity Officer Kevin Clayton and USTA Southern Section Diversity Director Yasmine Osborn. Many thanks to Tiffany Grayson and Beth McCaskill for inviting me to be a part of the fun. Let’s do it again real soon..