- Kamakshi Tandon
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At least Donald Young doesn't have to worry about getting a wild card for Wimbledon. The 21-year-old former prodigy will be directly into the main draw, only the second time in his career he's made the 108-man cutoff -- he also got straight into the 2010 U.S. Open.
No chance of another infamous tweeting episode like the one over the French Open wild card, which got Young a public rebuke from the USTA.
"It was probably just frustration over a whole lot of different things, it all accumulated to that point," Young said of the tweet in an interview at Queen's.
He has not explained the source of the conflict in any detail. "I prefer not to talk about it because I don't want to bring it up again," he said. "We just didn't agree on some things. I'll leave it at that."
Throughout, Young has maintained that he is sorry only for the way he said what he did, not for the underlying substance of his complaints -- "Sorry for the way I did it, just miscommunication."
Still, he adds, both he and the USTA have moved on. "We're cool," he said. "They still want to help. If I see the need … I'll use them."
Young earned entry into Wimbledon by breaking into the Top 100 in April -- right around the time entries close, six weeks prior to the event. But his rankings leap was too late to get him into the French Open in May, which is where all the trouble started.
Young reportedly felt his rise should have gotten him the USTA's men's wild card into the French Open, which the association gets in return for offering one to the French federation during the U.S. Open. But the USTA held its traditional playoffs for the spot instead, where he lost in the final to Tim Smyczek.
Young then tweeted his anger at the USTA -- 14 words, three of them unprintable, which set off a flurry of reaction. Patrick McEnroe, the head of USA player development, held a telephone news conference specifically to respond to Young's vague diatribe. Shortly after, Young told major media outlets he had apologized to McEnroe and some of the USTA coaches he had worked with.
After losing his chance at a wild card, Young was scheduled to play French Open qualifying but later pulled out without explanation. The reason eventually turned out to be linked to a wrist injury.
"I hurt my wrist in the finals of the Savannah challenger, during the match. The trainer had to come out," he said. "I couldn't practice for about a week, so I just decided not to come."
Avoiding the publicity that would have followed his appearance wasn't a motivation, he insisted. "If I felt I could have gone and qualified, got in, I definitely would have done it. But not practicing … It probably wouldn't have been a good idea."
Young has faced criticism ever since beginning his pro career in his early teens, when his parents and management agency accepted wild card after wild card into pro events for their undersized charge even as he piled up a string of disheartening first-round losses. Though Young has grown stronger and is now 6-foot, he has not been able to produce consistent results on the tour despite his skillful lefty game.
Many younger players -- and Young still is, at 21 -- have been told and trained to focus on developing their games rather than on individual matches. But Young appears to take each loss very hard both on and off court, showing negative emotion during matches and finding it difficult to look ahead or take positives from a defeat. "You still end up with the L, so you kind of don't feel that great," he said of the positive stretches in his first-round defeat at Queen's. "But maybe I can take it into the next tournament," he added, a little dubiously.
Asked if he liked playing on grass, Young said: "I did. I mean, I do -- it's tough. After a loss, it's tough. I won junior Wimbledon, so I like it. You've got to get used to it."
He will not establish eye contact when talking about the match, and it's easy to get a sense of the post-match emotional state that tweet must have come from.
His recent inactivity has contributed to his ranking having now fallen back to No. 124. "I just want to definitely inside the top 50," he said. "That's been a goal for a while and I haven't reached it, just want to keep going and see if I can reach that goal."
A continuing source of friction with the USTA and others has been his decision to keep his parents involved in a coaching role, though Young sees it as waiting for the right coach to come along.
"Right now, they're still the ones with me," he said, his collaboration with the USTA on pause at the moment. "We're always looking for someone to come on board.
"We've been actively looking for a while now, so if the right fit comes along, we'll probably take it."
And a right fit would be … "I don't know. I haven't found it yet."
Kamakshi Tandon is a freelance tennis writer for ESPN.com.
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