Donald Young, 28, won a tennis tournament Saturday. He and doubles partner Justin Whitman triumphed in the final and received trophies. Young has played on the ATP Tour since 2004 and won 115 professional matches, but this performance earned him no ranking points. So why did one of the top American players – a man who’s been ranked as high as 38th in the world – come to Dallas to play this event? He did it for basketball and a good cause.
Saturday at SMU, the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation held its second annual Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic. The fundraiser began with a dinner event and auction the evening before and continued with the open-to-the-public tennis tourney Sunday. A group of celebrities included non-tennis professional athletes like J.J. Barea and Mike Modano; former tour players like Mark Knowles, Andy Roddick, and Benjamin Becker; and, for good measure, actor Owen Wilson (who has a decent forehand). A dozen amateurs made sizable donations to the foundation for the privilege of playing with and against those luminaries. Each amateur and pro accumulated wristbands as they won tie-breakers with different partners, with two of each with the most bands meeting in the final. Young and Whitman defeated Barea and Jim McKinney in that last match.
In this video interview, Young talks about the whys and hows of playing in such a setting, and also touches on what the U.S. women’s showing at the recent U.S Open (four Americans reached the semi-finals) means for the sport in this country.