Donald Young proved doubters wrong last season.
It began with an upset win over then world No. 5 Andy Murray at the 2011 Indian Wells Masters. Then came a series of career highs as Young reached his first ATP semifinals in Washington, D.C., had a fourth round showing at the U.S. Open, and played in his maiden ATP final in Bangkok. After struggling on the ATP Tour, it appeared that Young was on his way to fulfill the potential he showed during his extremely successful junior career.
But despite the momentum heading into the new season and reaching a career high No. 38 in February, the 22-year-old Young is struggling to repeat the success in 2012.
In the nine tournaments Young has played this year he has only gone past the first round twice – at the Australian Open and at Memphis, losing both in the second round. His latest loss came at the hands of world No. 352 Paul-Henri Mathieu, losing 6-0, 6-1 in the first round at the Monte Carlo Masters. It was his fifth consecutive loss to a lower ranked player.
At No. 50 in the world, Young is the fourth ranked American and is still in a position to turn around his sub-par season. And if the 2011 U.S. Open was any indication, American tennis fans are eager to see Young succeed. With each victory in Flushing Meadows, the crowds for Young grew increasing boisterous and spirited. Young, who often exhibits negative body language during his matches, seemed to be on an upward trajectory and the American player to watch. That distinction now belongs to 26-year-old John Isner, who at No. 9 in the world is the top ranked American.
With Young, the coaching question is never far. After accepting an increased role from the USTA coaches last season, Young decided to go back to being coached by his mother Ilona in late 2011. As of now, there is no indication Young will be making any coaching changes.
Young may have proved his skeptics wrong last season, and as a result played with confidence befitting his talents, but he must find his game quickly before the doubts and doubters begin creeping up again.