©Colette Lewis 2007—
Grand Slam Championships, even for a player as talented as Donald Young, are hard to come by.
But after 11 tries, he captured his second Grand Slam junior singles title Sunday, defeating No. 1 seed Vlad Ignatic of Belarus 7-5, 6-1 on a picturesque afternoon at The All England Lawn and Tennis Club. Young, the 2005 Australian Open junior champion, got off to a quick start, breaking Ignatic in the match’s first game. The crowd, packing the No. 3 court as they sought diversion prior to the men’s doubles and singles finals, were treated to a much tighter set than those two games would suggest however, as Young could not hold either of the two leads he had. Ignatic even managed to take a 5-4 lead, but Young picked up the pace and won the set’s final three games.
“My serve wasn’t really good today,” said Ignatic, whose first serve percentage was under 50 percent. “I’m really tired and couldn’t serve good and I think it was the key to the game. I was 5-4 up…if I serve just a little bit better, I think it’s first set for me, he’s one set down, nervous, and I’m more confident because I’m one set up.”
“If I’d have lost the first set it would have been a real dogfight to come back and try to win the second, because he would have just got even more confident, hit more balls in, you know [be] loose and just go for it,” said Young.
The 17-year-old from Atlanta displayed the importance of that sense of relaxation by steamrolling Ignatic in the second set’s first three games. The two-break lead allowed Young to dictate points, position himself for forehands and attack Ignatic’s frequent second serves.
“I didn’t really have a strategy,” said Young of his first meeting with Ignatic. “I mean, hit a lot of first serves in, make him play, move him around, try to attack and just keep a lot of balls in play and put pressure on him.”
Despite being in a 5-1 hole in the second, Ignatic hung tough in the final game, staving off five match points before Young finally got the forehand he wanted on the sixth and drilled it.
Young, now working with USTA High Performance coach David Nainkin, didn’t celebrate extravagantly--a smile toward his parents and a fist pump before the handshake were enough—but the No. 3 seed acknowledged the importance of the win.
“It’s good to go out there and beat your peers,” he said. “Be able, not to dominate, but win, show you can play under pressure.”
“Today he was better,” conceded Ignatik, who will remain No. 1 in the ITF junior world rankings with his finals’ appearance. “He has a very good ATP ranking already, around 300; he’s a very good player. I didn’t feel great today, I didn’t play well, but next time I will try to show him better tennis.”
Madison Brengle showed Poland’s Urszula Radwanska some very good tennis for a set and a half, but it all came crashing down as she lost twelve straight games to the 16-year-old from Krakow, falling 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Brengle, the seventh seed, suffered a pulled stomach muscle serving in the second game of the third set, but she was the first to admit that the match slipped away from her well before that.
“She played well, and I just got really tight,” said the 17-year-old from Delaware. “When I was up a set and 3-0, she started serving really well, and that made it a lot harder to finish it out.”
Brengle, who had played with depth, angles and precision throughout the first eleven games saw the tide turn in the twelfth. Twice she had ads to go up 4-0, but when she converted neither, Radwanska had a glimmer of hope, and she seized it by making liberal use of what she termed her favorite shot--the drop shot.
“I saw that she was a little bit tired,” said Radwanska, the No. 6 seed. “She didn’t run like she did in the first set, and I was also playing very good.”
“She’s got really tough drop shots,” said Brengle, who has been in Europe for seven weeks and has played in seven tournaments, including five junior events and two professional qualifiers. “After a while I started feeling it in my legs. Her drop shots were extremely difficult to get to—they were just going over the net by two inches.”
With her win, Radwanska matches her sister Agnieszka’s 2005 Wimbledon Junior title, in the process becoming the first sisters to win junior singles championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Unfortunately, Agnieszka, who reached the third round this year and the fourth round last year in the women’s draw, was not able to stay in London to watch her sister put them in the history books. The WTA’s 35th ranked player left yesterday for a $100,000 challenger in Italy next week.
“She was very happy,” said Urszula. “I called her after the final and she was very happy, like me.”
“It’s a great beginning for us that we won Wimbledon, both of us,” said Radwanska, when asked if she and her sister were aspiring to the Williams sisters’ success on the grass courts of SW 19. “We hope it is the start for us.”