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Ryan Young Making Strides on Pro Tour

September 23, 2008 01:58 PM

This is a great interview on an up and coming touring pro from South Carolina. Ryan Young was a standout player from a young age. He set the Wachovia Palmetto Championships record for most wins, and in his tenure at Clemson he set another record, with nearly 150 wins. His family has deep roots in the Palmetto State and was honored as the 2006 USTA SC Family of the Year. Below is an interview from the Charleston Post and Courrier which gives some great insight into the sometimes less than glamorous life of a rising star on the pro tour.

Young family

One-on-One with Ryan Young

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How did you fare playing tennis in Asia?
"I made three finals this year, which I thought was pretty good for my first time out. I played challengers this summer and did OK. I'm going to go back to Asia and play some more futures and some challengers."

What's it like being in a completely foreign environment?
"It was unique, I guess. I looked at it as a great opportunity, to travel the world, experience new cultures and do what I love, which is to play tennis. I would say it takes some getting used to. Not being able to communicate in English, the different foods, and just a whole different lifestyle."

How many tournaments did you play?
"I played in 12 tournaments from January to May."

Did you know anyone at all over there? Anyone who maybe you played tennis with or against from college?
"Actually, I played a college buddy of mine in the finals of a tournament in Asia. We traveled a lot together."

How many different countries did you play in?
"I started out in China, then I went to Thailand, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia. So I was all over."

Was it tough being away from home for that long?
"It was really hard, but I'm doing what I'm called to do, so that makes it easier. I love being around my family, but they support me so much and they know that I have to do what I have to do in order to be successful. I always try to keep that in mind when I get homesick."

You mentioned the different foods. What was the most unusual thing you tried?
"Well, I'll tell you a fun story. Now this is something I definitely didn't eat, but we were in China and were walking around this market. There was this big, glass container and there was this animal hanging in it with a hook in its mouth. We were like 'Oh, my God, that's a dog.' A dog hanging in a class container with his head cut off."

What was the strangest thing that you actually did eat?
"I just tried to avoid anything if I didn't know what it was. I tried to stick to stuff I knew."

How were the tennis facilities?
"On the futures, I would compare it to minor league baseball. Kind of like the difference between Joe Riley Park and Turner Field."

How about the accommodations?
"Oh, my gosh. My buddy and I literally had no money. We were in this resort city and it was too expensive, so we had to stay at another hotel and walk back and forth to the courts every day. We were staying in like a gas station-hotel. And every day for lunch and dinner we had bread and tuna. The mosquitoes were so bad we had to sleep in hoodies and wrapped up under the sheets to keep them away."

What kind of money were you playing for over there?
"Well, the first tournament I made the finals in in India, I made $900. I had to come through qualifying, which was three matches, and I won four more in the main draw to get to the finals. In one of the other finals, I made like $1,200."

As you prepare to go out on tour again, what are your goals?
"I'm going to play three tournaments in Thailand, and then I'm going to play challengers in Pakistan, Korea and Malaysia. So I'm going to be traveling around a good bit."

What do you think you'll have to do to make the big tour?
"I just got back from the U.S. Open, so I think I have a pretty good idea. It's not how hard they hit the ball. It's just that they're so strong and so fit. That's where I have to improve, to get bigger and stronger."

I understand there are some fundraising efforts going on to help you out on tour. Talk a bit about that.
"I can't even begin to tell you how much support I've already gotten. People have really helped me out. I've gotten a lot of support both emotionally and financially."

Note: "Rockin' For Ryan," a night of dinner and dancing, will be held from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Sand Dunes Club on Sullivan's Island, with proceeds going to help support Ryan Young on tour. For more information, contact Treg Monty at (843) 388-2004.