Once upon a time, Donald Young was a tennis prodigy destined for greatness. He had a Nike deal worth enough money to buy the US Open reliable Wi-Fi with plenty to spare. He was the future for American tennis, the next in line, they said.
Today, he is not that. Not at all. Today, he is hard to watch. And today, he lost in three straight sets to Blaz Kavcic, the No. 92 player in the world.
Raise your hand if you've heard of Blaz Kavcic. Exactly.
Now I'm no tennis coach (shocker, right?) but I think I found part of the problem that is keeping Young from reaching even a fraction of his potential. It's his family. They're holding him back and I've witnessed it firsthand in consecutive US Opens, sitting directly behind them in his losses.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure his Mom and Pops are lovely people. Or maybe they're not. I don't know and I don't care, really. But I do know they are the last people who need to be sitting behind Young during his matches. They need to be high in the grandstands or at home on the couch because it's clear they are a distraction. He is CONSTANTLY looking to them for approval, or as someone to cry to when things go wrong. The latter being the most frequent from what I've seen.
Time and time again in today's first round exit, Young would look to his family after a lost point. It's almost as if he was more concerned with their reactions than the actual scoreboard. I understand his parents coach him and coaches can offer some much-needed guidance during a match, but Young couldn't go two minutes without glancing over to the front row at Mom and Dad when his attention and focus should've been on Blaz Kavcic and the match he let slip away after winning the first four games. Mom and Dad can't make a difference from the bleachers, so why does Young, now 25 years old, feel the need to look their way so often?
Furthermore, when Young looks toward his family, it's often followed with a flurry of language not suitable for our younger readers at The Outer Courts. My mother would drag me off the court by the earlobe at the mere thought of some of the things he spews his mother's way at any given moment during a match. The seating around the Youngs should come with a warning sign or an '18 and over' policy. Check IDs at the top of the stairs to be safe.
It's a shame, too. Young should be one of the most likable guys at the US Open. He is America's second highest ranked player on tour and he's from Chicago, the city that gave us Michael Jordan, deep dish pizza, and Family Matters. Every American likes Chicago, therefore every American should like Donald Young. Sadly, that's not the case. Not until he grows up and channels his emotions toward winning instead of slamming rackets and yelling at his parents in the first row. If they were to move out of sight, I believe we'd see a better Donald Young on the tennis court, maybe even a likable one.