FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s been so long that the tennis world waited for the arrival of Donald Young, that it seems like he’s been at it for almost 15 years.
“15 years?” he laughed. “That would mean I would be like a lot older than I am now.”
Yes that would mean the American would have turned pro when he was seven years-old. So maybe not 15 years, but it still seems like forever.
But today Flushing Meadows got a taste of what they wanted to see all the way back to 2007 when Young was a junior champion. He won a five set classic against the 14th seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, 7-6 3-6 2-6 6-3 7-6, that lasted four hours and 20 minutes on Court 17 in one of the best matches of this US Open.
“It’s great for me, you know, to play 4 hours and 20 minutes,” he said. “I saw the clock at the end. Throughout the whole match I was looking at the clock, and like, Oh man, am I going to make it the whole time?
“But that’s what you put the work and the practice for. To actually have it come through, yeah, it’s just great to win.”
And great for American tennis to see Young develop. This match showed why he was so hyped over the past few years. He battled his more experienced opponent even when he was down two sets to one and came back.
On fire in the fourth, he rattled off two breaks to beat the Swiss national and forced a fifth set.
It shows the fitness level of Chicago native, who in the past was criticized for not committing to the game. So, he recommitted himself and came to play in shape.
“Yeah, like I say, you know, to do things you’ve never done before you have to do things you’ve never done before,” he said. “In the off‑season I did something different, and that was great. Definitely to see it like come and know I could play that long in a match definitely makes you feel great.”
Yes winning is much better than losing, something Young can really attest to. So far he has just five challenger wins for his career and two challenger doubles titles. His knock was that he was never committed entirely to the game, instead treating it more like a job than a calling.
“I don’t think I was getting any motivation when I was losing all the time,” he said. “You know, you have people around you that you feel and trust in what they say and they tell you you can do it. You go out there and keep practicing. This is my job at the end of the day. Most people don’t just quit a job unless they have something else to do.
“I could obviously go to school, which would be great. Not to knock that. But this is something I chose to do. They always told me it would be a waste to waste the talent you have and not do anything with it.”
Even with his journeyman status Young was always a threat. The word potential has always been used when describing this hard hitting volleyer, but with every negative comes a lesson, and he has been schooled over the years.
“You know, don’t take things for granted,” he said. “I feel like when I was 18 and I got to 73 in the world, the youngest in the top 100, I was top 75, it all seemed kind of easy, not realizing how much work I put into it to get to where I actually was.
“Life lessons? Just keep working hard. Don’t give up if it’s something you really want to do. Listen to the people you trust and you can always learn.”
Yet that can wait as Young is now the talk of the tournament and the tennis world will continue to marvel at his arrival when he takes on No. 24 seed Juan Ignacio Chela in the third round.