By Jason Brown, USTA.com
USTA.com: When did you get the call to be a Davis Cup practice partner?
Donald Young: It was actually during a McAllen Futures in Texas when Patrick called and said that they wanted me to come here and hit with the guys. My Davis Cup experience has been awesome to hit with all of the guys – Andy, James and the Bryans. It’s been awesome just being around the guys and seeing how they do, how they act and everything. USTA.com: What advice have you learned from the guys on the U.S. team?
Donald Young: They’ve definitely all invited me to come to their houses and train with them. Their biggest advice is to just stay focused and to try not to get too down on yourself so fast. If you play one bad set, that’s just one bad set, it’s not a bad match. And if you play one bad match, that’s just one match, and you move on.
USTA.com: Has it been hard to sit on the U.S. bench wanting to get out there and compete?Donald Young:
You want to play, but obviously they’re the best; that’s why they’re playing. I’m just happy to be here and be able to cheer them on and be part of the team.
USTA.com: Do you see yourself in maybe a couple of years down the road playing for the U.S. Davis Cup Team?
Donald Young: Hopefully so, but I got to keep working on my game, getting my game up there first and then maybe I’ll be able to do that. But I’m just going to keep working on my game and take as much as I can from these guys.
USTA.com: What are the guys on the team really like?
Donald Young: They’re all really down to earth. They’re all normal like everybody else, like you and me. The only difference is that they play really good tennis.
USTA.com: What is the state of your game right now, both physically and mentally?
Donald Young: Physically, the way that I’m playing right now is pretty well. But mentally I need to get back up there. You take so many losses you start feeling like you’re supposed to lose. Tennis is all about winning matches, and if you win a lot more matches, you keep getting more confidence, and the better you play.
USTA.com: For all of the junior tennis players out there, what can you tell them about the transition from being a junior to the Challenger level to the pro game?
Donald Young: It’s a big jump. Juniors and pros are nothing alike. The only thing that might be alike is that you might be No. 1, and someone is always chasing you. But other than that, the competition is at a totally different level.
USTA.com: What have been your playing experiences at the US Open?
Donald Young: At the US Open, in 2004 I got a qualifying wild card, and in 2005 and 2006, I won Kalamazoo, so I got a main-draw entry into the US Open. It was awesome just be out there at the Open.
USTA.com: From where you were three years ago to now, how much has your game matured?
Donald Young: I feel like my game has been maturing a lot. I’ve been working with my mom and dad and a lot of the USTA guys. When I start playing tournaments in California, I plan to start working out at the High Performance facility, too.
USTA.com: How important is health and fitness to you?
Donald Young: My mom is trying to build it up. We do fitness when we go down to Bollettieri’s IMG Academy. They have a state-of-the-art fitness center, so we work out with a guy down there, and it’s going well.
USTA.com: Do you have any strange pre-match rituals?
Donald Young: Everything kind of has to be to the left. Left-handers think differently.USTA.com: What’s on your iPod right now?
Donald Young: I like rap and R&B. I don’t really have a favorite artist; no clear favorite.
USTA.com: What do you like to do during your down-time?
Donald Young: I’ve graduated high school in Atlanta already, so that’s pretty good. My average day is waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to practice. Eat breakfast, watch TV and sometimes play video games with friends.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for young players trying to make it to the top of the junior rankings or even the pros?
Donald Young: Keep working hard. Keep your head up, and just don’t give up. Everybody always says that, but it’s really true because it’s easy to get down on yourself really fast. So keep fighting and keep competing, and sooner or later, it will work out.
USTA.com: Was there ever a moment when you didn’t want to train any more, trying to become a professional tennis player?
Donald Young: Yeah, when I was in the juniors ranked No.1, I’d go to a tournament and lose and get upset. Because you’re used to winning all of the time, that you didn’t think that there was another level to get your game to, that it was all the same.