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Young doesn't act his age in victory TENNIS: Twenty-year-old outlasts veteran Russell to capture Calabasas tourney.

Byline: Erik Boal, Special to the Daily News

Although his opponent in the final of the $50,000 USTA Men's Pro Tennis Championship of Calabasas was 11 years his senior and ranked 129spots higher on the ATP World Tour, it was 20-year-old Donald Young who played like a savvy veteran Sunday.

Relying on clutch serving and some timely passing shots, Young recorded the final six points to capture the first-set tiebreaker and rode the momentum to win the last five games of the match en route to a 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory over No. 100 Michael Russell of Houston at Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center.

It was Young's first singles title since winning a $50,000 Challenger event in Sacramento a year ago and his third as a professional, including a victory at the $75,000 Aptos Challenger in July 2007.

"I'm just happy to get one," said Young, an Atlanta resident and former world junior No. 1. "These are few and far between."

Young's performance also helped erase the disappointment of losing in the semifinals of last year's event to Sam Warburg, in addition to a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 setback to Robert Kendrick in the final of the 2007 tournament.

"It gives you a lot of confidence doing that," said Young, who defeated No. 112 Taylor Dent 6-3, 6-2 in the round of 16.

"For me, it's all about being consistent. I've started keeping more balls in play and playing a lot smarter. And I feel like if I'm moving well, I'm playing well."

After recording the match's first break to take a 3-2 lead, it appeared the left-handed Young would be able to serve out the first set. But Russell, who dropped only one set entering the final, broke back in the 10th game, then held to take a 6-5 lead.

Young also held to force the tiebreaker, but hit unforced errors after his first two serves to face a 3-0 deficit.

After Young, who trailed 4-1, hit a backhand winner on the line to tie the tiebreaker at 4-4, Russell hit a backhand into the net, followed by two forehand errors to relinquish the set.

"Donald obviously played great all week," said Russell, who reached the final of the first Calabasas event in 2001. "He handled the conditions much better than I did today."

Young, who rebounded from a first-set loss in his opening-round match against qualifier Louk Sorensen to win his final 10 sets, broke Russell twice in the second set to atone for a 6-4, 6-2 loss in February in Dallas.

"If you don't come with your 'A' game against (Michael), you're going to lose," Young said. "It was a big key for me to win the first set, especially serving for it. (Trailing 4-1 in the tiebreaker) I wasn't going to give it up because I knew it would be even tougher to come back and win two sets."

erik.boal@dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 26, 2009
Words:490
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