I feel a bit sorry for this kid - not only is he down in the trenches these days trying to fight his way up on his own merits, he has to do so while facing a major respect and credibility deficit thanks to people who have taken exception to how he was handled and written him off already.
Well I doubt he knows, let alone cares, what a bunch of people on a message board are saying about him
He's got the respect of the people he most likely looks up to - and that's all that should really matter. If he's getting positive reinforcement from the people he actually listens to, he'll be fine. It's entirely possible that he'll be a late bloomer, lots of the greats of the game weren't great as teenagers. When people you really respect tell you they believe in you, it can have a significant effect. We have actual proof of that
Will experience translate to success for Young?
By Bonnie DeSimone
Special to ESPN.com
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Donald Young got thrown into a pool with some serious card sharks last week, but he held his own. He invested $100 in a game of Dealer's Choice and came out $1 up -- not bad considering the monetary losses suffered by some past Davis Cup practice partners.
The 17-year-old said he was initially unsure whether he'd fit in during his first stint with the poker-loving U.S. team, given the age gap between him and his accomplished elders, although he said it helped to have fellow teenager Sam Querrey along.
In the end, Young said he felt "embraced." He left with an open invitation to train in Texas with Andy Roddick and in Florida with James Blake and Mardy Fish.
"It's funny how they so easily turn the switch on and off, from hanging out joking to getting really serious," Young said. "They'll be joking five minutes before the match, then they take five or 10 minutes to get themselves ready to play, and afterwards they're back to joking."
Blake said that's exactly what he hoped the talented teenager would absorb this week.
"[To] see how a lot of us train, how hard we work, how professional we are about it … I was never able to get that kind of experience at a young age," Blake said. "I'd love to see him staying positive all the time out on the court. I think he gets down on himself, which I was definitely guilty of early in my career and probably still am. … I see a little bit of myself in that."
Fish also had high praise for Young, likening his game to retired Chilean star Marcelo Rios. "He's got all the shots and amazing hands," Fish said. "He seems like a very good kid and a hard worker."
Bob Bryan echoed that sentiment, saying, "Give the kid two years, he'll be top 50. … He's got all the tools. He just maybe needs to pull the trigger a little more."
The learning experience and the good vibes could be critical for Young at this stage of his closely scrutinized career. He turned pro at 14 and finished 2005 as junior world No. 1. He has won only one set in 10 ATP-level tournaments and reached his first final on the lower-level U.S. Pro Circuit in January.
His ATP losses have been extensively chronicled. Roddick, Blake and U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe all weighed in on his development last year, saying Young's confidence and his match readiness would suffer if he continued to get beaten up at that level. That provoked some resentment in Young's camp -- he is coached by his parents, Donald Sr. and Illona -- but a clearly energized Young said that is all in the rearview now.
Young said McEnroe broke the ice by approaching him last year at the Orange Bowl, the prestigious junior tournament held each December in Florida, and saying he had great expectations for Young's future. McEnroe backed up the talk by inviting the lefty here and giving him as much coaching as his team duties permitted. He said Young's game and his attitude were both impressive.
"Mentally and emotionally, I think it was an awesome week for him," McEnroe said. "What he really needs is to spend more time around these guys, practicing with them. He's got to develop his game more, hit bigger shots, which he can do.
"The guys have really taken him under their wings. If they think the kid has game and can go somewhere, they spend a little extra time with him. Andy took it upon himself, when he was actually practicing with him and beating him up pretty good, [to] say things to him -- 'You've hit every ball to my forehand,' or 'You served five times in a row to the same spot.'
Young endured minimal hazing last week, although the veterans did induce him to work some inside jokes into a speech before 300 guests at a VIP dinner.
"I've learned a lot about how to compete out there, to never stop, don't get that hangdog look out there," Young said.