Published April 25, 2011
| Associated Press
Maybe Patrick McEnroe and Donald Young can work this thing out at a Cee Lo concert.
One of America's most respected names in tennis and one its top young hopefuls are using the media — social and traditional — in a war of words that began with Young's expletive-laden rip on the USTA via Twitter over what he perceived as a snub in the handing out of a wild-card spot for the French Open.
The dispute picked up again Monday, when McEnroe held a conference call with reporters in which he demanded an apology and all but called Young an ingrate with an overbearing family.
Young's tweet came out after he lost last Friday in the final of a tournament that determined who would receive the USTA's wild-card entry into the French Open. It channeled the hit Cee Lo song — the scrubbed-up version of which is called "Forget You" on most family radio stations.
"(Expletive) USTA! Their full of (expletive)! They have (expletive) me for the last time!" Young wrote shortly after his loss to Tim Smyczek.
McEnroe, the head of the USTA's player development program, countered with the same basic message, minus the swearing, by saying he was offended and calling for Young to apologize if he wants to continue his relationship with the USTA.
"I'm offended for people on our team that have worked very hard," McEnroe said. "When he said what he said, it was taken quite personally by members of the player development team. I think Donald should apologize for what he said. At that point, we can all move on."
McEnroe detailed a laundry list of grant money, coaching and training opportunities Atlanta-based Young has received from the USTA since 2005. But Young also has stayed under the tutelage of his parents, Donald Sr. and Illona, and that has caused tension over the years, as the parents and the USTA have differed on the best training regimen for the 21-year-old player.
A voicemail left by The Associated Press at the parents' house was not immediately returned.
The long-simmering tension took an ugly, public turn in the past few days because of quirks in the ranking system and the USTA's method of doling out wild-card entries to the majors. The USTA receives one wild-card entry for men and women for the French Open and can distribute them however it pleases. It chose to conduct a six-person tournament in Boca Raton, Fla., because, according to McEnroe, "We want to send a message to our players that we would like them to earn their way into every step along the way."
Young, who defeated second-ranked Andy Murray at Indian Wells last month, recently won a lower-level tournament in Tallahassee, Fla., that vaulted him into the top 100 — the cutoff for automatic entry into the French. But his ranking didn't rise until a week after the cutoff date for Roland Garros. That forced him to play in the wild-card tournament in Florida, where he lost in the final.
He still can make the French by going through the qualifier in Paris the week before the tournament.
But Young wasn't looking ahead when he tweeted on Friday. A bit after the expletive-filled post, Young followed up by tweeting, "That tweet was out of character. ive never been like that before. but im tired of it. sry about the language, but not the thought behind it."
By the weekend, he had shut down his Twitter account.
McEnroe, meanwhile, spent the weekend stewing.
He said in addition to the coaching and financial help, the USTA has given Young 13 wild-card entries into different U.S. Open draws over the years. He said the method of awarding this year's French Open wild-card spot had been determined well in advance and Young knew about it when a member of his team emailed the USTA requesting he be given the federation's wild-card.
Though McEnroe wasn't shutting any doors on Young, who has made it as far as the third round in a Grand Slam tournament only once, he sounded fed up with what has been a long-running soap opera between the USTA and Young's family.
"We would like to at least feel like we get, 'Hey, thanks for helping me out,'" McEnroe said. "Unfortunately, we haven't heard that enough, if at all. I'm not going to go into details, but suffice to say, this wasn't just one tweet that a youngster made in being ticked off. This is the tip of the iceberg, basically."