At The Open
With Marcia Frost...
Monday, August 29th
Main Draw, Day One
I've never been one to go along with the crowd. When the tennis world said 18 year old Andy Roddick was the next best thing, I didn't believe. When it took him a few years to break through and everyone was starting to give up, I felt it was finally his time. I have to take the same road with Donald Young. I have never bought into the hype that Donald Young was about to become America's top professional player. And today did not change my mind.
Now don't get me wrong, I think Donald Young is a great player. A great junior player. I think there is some possibility that he could even be good enough to win the US Open Junior Championships, but he is no match for most experienced professionals. Today he faced Italian qualifier Giorgio Galimberti. Despite the tiebreak score in the first set, it was not exciting tennis. It was a series of errors made by each player that brought them to the sudden death end.
Here is where the build up of Donald Young annoys me. The media-made crowd was huge and they cheered for every point Donald got as if it was the greatest shot in the world. The clapped, they screamed, they generally made fools of themselves over a serve that landed in the right box. It was not only ridiculous, but turned out to be more pressure than the 16 year old could handle. A tiebreaker in the first (during which Donald had two set points) turned into a 6-1 loss in the second and 6-2 loss in the third. Maybe if we give Donald a break rather than another wildcard and let him play in the juniors while he polishes his game, he can possibly sharpen that talent and become the player America wants.
Jessica Kirkland, on the other hand, is a player I always felt was heading for big things. She impressed me as a 15 year old here and she's impressing me two years later. Today's match up was a close one with last year's Junior Open finalist, who has climbed to 178 in the WTA rankings, facing the 2000 Junior Open winner who is currently 127 in the world. The Argentinian had to qualify for this event and she wasn't going down without a fight. It was a close first set with Maria taking a 4-2 lead through some long, great points. Jessica brought it up to 5-4, but the 22 year old took the winning game.
The second set belonged to Jessica, who has definitely put on some muscle since I've last seen her. She dominated for a 6-3 win, but couldn't hold onto her 4-2 lead in the third. Before she knew it, Maria had hit her with one too many deadly forehands and they were in a tiebreaker in which she was shut out.
I missed most of Mary Gambale's match while watching Jessica's. This was mainly because it was such an unexpectedly quick match. I had really thought the Girls' 18 USTA Nationals winner would be more of a challenge for No. 28 Dally Randriantefy, but the Madagascar native took controlled the match for a 6-3,6-1 win. I don't know yet if Mary or Jessica will play in the Junior Championships this year.
There was a former junior who I've always regarded highly who broke through today. Brian Baker shocked the ninth-seeded Gaston Gaudio, 7-6(9),6-2,6-4. I can't say I was that surprised. I knew it was just a matter of time before Brian would break through and he used this USTA wildcard to do it. I'm hoping the 20 year old will have a very successful run this Open.
Tomorrow I look forward to Alexa Glatch and Vania King. The two talented teens -- who happen to also be doubles partners -- will certainly bring some more excitement to the 2005 U.S. Open.