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What we learned while at Wimbledon

7/9/2007 - Tennis

WIMBLEDON, England -- Donald Young, a former junior world No. 1, has struggled on the professional level and some observers had thought he should have continued to play more matches on the junior circuit. But he and his parents felt he had no more worlds to conquer there -- except, perhaps, for Wimbledon, which is special no matter what trophy is at stake.

Young's junior Wimbledon title was the first by a U.S. player since Scott Humphries (who now coaches Mardy Fish in conjunction with Todd Martin) did it in 1994. Young, the No. 3 seed, defeated top-seeded Vladimir Ignatic of Belarus 7-5, 6-1 Sunday, although Ignatic made a last-minute goal-line stand, saving five match points before succumbing.

"It's awesome," Young said. "It hasn't, you know, sunken in yet. Right now I still feel really good that I've won. I can't really believe that -- you know, I felt I was the target, you know, the highest‑ranked pro player in the tournament."

Young is currently ranked No. 292 in the ATP standings and has been playing a busy schedule of events on the lower-level U.S. Pro Circuit this season. He won his first professional tournament in April. Young will turn 18 later his month and is still age-eligible for junior tournaments for the entire calendar year, but probably will play just one more event at that level, the Junior U.S. Open.

Why keep alternating between circuits? "It's the junior Grand Slam. … it's good to go out there and beat your peers also," Young said. "Be able not to dominate but win, show you can play under pressure."

Among those in attendance for Young's victory Sunday was long-time mentor David Dinkins, the former New York City mayor who first hit with Young when Young was 9 years old.

The all-American team of Young and partner Johnny Hamui lost in the semifinals of the doubles competition to the Italian tandem of Daniel Lopez and Matteo Trevisan.

On the girls' side, 17-year-old Madison Brengle was bidding to break a U.S. drought in the junior Wimbledon event that had persisted since Chanda Rubin's title in 1992. The seventh-seeded Brengle appeared to be in command when she led 6-2, 3-0 in the second set, but lost 12 straight games and the match to sixth seed Urszula Radwanska of Poland.

Brengle said she pulled a stomach muscle in the first service game of the third set and probably was overly fatigued after playing in seven straight tournaments and doubling up on matches most days this week due to the inclement weather.

No chest-thump this time: Bob and Mike Bryan fell short in their second straight Grand Slam doubles competition, but Bob Bryan said the world's top team still feels positive about the season so far. "I think we've played 11 or 12 tournaments and gotten to nine finals," he told ESPN.com. "We can't complain at all."

"They won all the tight, scrappy points," Mike Bryan said.

Frolicking Frenchmen Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement stripped off their shirts and threw them, along with a half-dozen rackets, into the seats at Court One after defeating the Bryans 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles final Sunday in only their fifth Grand Slam appearance as a team.

The Bryans were looking for their sixth Grand Slam title overall; they already own a career Slam. It was the first major for Clement and Llodra. But the Bryans do have six championships in the bag this year, at the Australian Open, Las Vegas, Miami, Houston, Monte Carlo and Hamburg.

Both brothers said they thought Court 1, where the final was played, felt slower than the outside courts they've been toiling on all week -- a turf issue that doesn't help their style. Mike Bryan estimated that the courts as a whole are 25 to 30-percent slower than they were when the twins first played here in 1999.

But the Bryans gave all credit to the winning pair and said the French players in general have capitalized on the conditions. "They're talented ballstrikers and shot-makers," Bob Bryan said. "There are a lot of tight points on grass and sometimes you only get a couple of looks in a game."

A few more things we learned on our summer vacation:

• Like Bob said, the French are grazing on the grass. With Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet in the semifinals and the first all-French men's Wimbledon doubles championship since 1933, les Francais served notice that this, not the terra cotta soil of home, is currently their best surface. Their federation would like to take credit for the technical skill that translates so well onto le gazon -- especially the slower version now carpeting Wimbledon. France does indeed have a model developmental program, but part of the trend is coincidence. Bartoli, for example, was coached by her dad and matured outside the system. It also makes you realize, again, that the pressure to win a home Grand Slam has become suffocating, and is a less and less likely occurrence given the globalization of the game.

• Don't dismiss the Williamses, Part 1,583, In Which Our Heroines Prove Themselves Once Again. Venus delivered sustained excellence and Serena willed herself to win one of the most dramatic matches of the year. A year ago they were being discounted. They have nothing more to prove, but they keep acting as if they do, and the results have been spectacular. Rather than continuing the tiresome debate about their commitment to the game, why don't we just enjoy the twinbill while it lasts?

• Gee, it rains a lot here. We pressed the panic button along with most other people on Wet Second Tuesday, when it seemed impossible that the tournament would finish on time, and called for play on Middle Sunday. Yet we have to concede that once the weather cooperated, the All-England Club caught up pretty quickly. We might suggest earlier daily match starts, though. There's no doubt that the compressed schedule unfairly penalized some players, especially Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, both of whom had physical problems connected to the monstrous amount of time they spent on court in Week 2. It's not such a good idea to have juniors playing two and three matches in a day either. Our prediction is that England will enter a period of prolonged drought once the retractable roof is in place in 2009.

Bonnie DeSimone is a freelancer who contributes frequently to ESPN.com.