So Patrick McEnroe has Donald Young’s apology. He and the USTA have Young’s words of appreciation for what they’ve done. And now, we forgive and forget.
Everyone loves a happy ending. Everyone loves a smiley face.
Young had a temper tantrum. McEnroe’s little feelings were hurt. It’s all over.
And how do things move forward? They go back.
Same spot they were before. And by that, I mean they go back to a relationship so bitter between aging prodigy and governing body that it can’t keep from bubbling over, out into the public.
What an amazing fail. Young was hyped from the age of 10, way before you can tell anything about the future of a male tennis player. But he was sold as tennis’ Tiger Woods. Instead tennis’ Tiger wrote on his Twitter account Friday, “FU—USTA!’’ He wrote that the USTA is “full of shi—! They have screwed me for the last time!’’
Now, Young has apologized. But what could have been a constructive, learning moment over the past few days turned instead into a little superfluous spat. By not doing the hard work that could go to mend this relationship, both sides, basically, are just trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
“Basically, I want to just apologize for what I said and the way I said it,’’ Young told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “It wasn’t the right way to say it, at all. I appreciate the USTA’s support over the years. It helped me out a lot.’’
That was an excellent apology, but Young was forced into it. McEnroe made Young dance by appealing to the public to apply pressure. That’s all that was accomplished. Young had to dance because he needs the USTA. The USTA, meanwhile, continues down a path with a zero success rate, not realizing how much of its reputation hinges on Young.
Young will continue getting help from the USTA, but also will continue to be coached by his parents. The USTA wants Young to ditch his parents and learn from them, at no charge. Young doesn’t trust the USTA.
None of that has changed one bit. This same path continues.
I don’t know whose side to take on this because I think both sides have failed. In general, I side with an individual over a large, bloated bureaucracy. But I’m not sure a tennis federation can build a champion. It takes a special person with special desire.
That said, it takes money and training, too. Not long ago, the feeling was that Russia was doing it best. But while that led to a lot of big money-makers, it didn’t build champions. Maybe that’s all you can rely on a system to do? Spain is the hot system now, at least in developing men. But you suspect that their will pass, too.
Someone has to discover these prodigies first. In Young’s case, the discovery seems to have started with agents at IMG, and with John McEnroe’s spotlight. The USTA had to be mixed in there somewhere, too.
But I’m not sure Young’s discovery was based so much on his potential on the court as his potential to be seen as the next Woods. Everyone might have picked the wrong guy, and certainly picked him too early.
Well, the USTA hasn’t shown, either, that it knows what to do with the players it has chosen. But Young said Monday that he needs the USTA to help him develop. It has provided him with coaching and wildcards, free passes into tournaments, even cash.
Meanwhile, Young has continued to be coached by his parents, who have hit their ceiling.
Last week, Young was angry because he wanted a wildcard into the French Open. The USTA wouldn’t eliminate a planned mini-tournament it had lined up to determine who gets that wildcard. So Young went nuts after losing in the final of the mini-tourney.
McEnroe, USTA’s director of player development, called a teleconference to tell everyone every detail of support, every penny spent on Young, and to demand an apology and ask for a thank you. Then Young responded.
But what happens now with Young? The thing is, for the first time he’s actually good enough to belong on tour. He is ranked No. 95, and has a win over Andy Murray. His career won-loss record is terrible, mostly because he has always been placed over his head, given too many wildcards into big league tournaments when his game belonged in the minors.
Anyway, Young, who’s 21, remains Example No. 1 of what the USTA can do for a player, or to one. Young will continue, entitled and immature.
This spat isn’t going to harm or to help their relationship. The hard feelings will just go back to bubbling again, waiting for the next time to spill out. U.S. tennis will continue to struggle, and Young will never be Tiger Woods. He never was.