Most observers trace Jaeger's decline back to the 1982 U.S. Open, when, at 17, she appeared to give up at the end of a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Evert. But she dates it to the '84 French Open. She claims her shoulder popped while hitting a routine backhand in a first-round match, causing her to default. "I wanted to compete so badly," she says, "and everyone was saying I didn't want to."
Jennifer, says Jaeger, will have to learn to slough off the second-guessing that will occur if her results aren't up to expectations, if she ever loses her temper on the court or if her body begins to betray her. "If she gets hurt, people will say she started too young," says Jaeger. "If she throws a racket or swears or loses a lot of first-round matches, they'll say the pressure has gotten to her. Then she'll start thinking about the pressure, and the game really won't be fun anymore. After a few failures she'll learn that the only people who really care are friends and family."
Like Jennifer, Jaeger was coached by her old man. A former boxer, Roland Jaeger was the prototypical tennis father, pummeling the game into his daughter. He rarely complimented her play. "He wasn't a huge, domineering guy who watched my every move," she says in his defense. "I think he was great. I know how to spell my name; I don't drink or do drugs. How many fathers can say that about their kids?"
At Jennifer's age, perhaps, the danger is not that she will burn out but that she will opt out. "It's very hard to know how her character will develop when the glands start to function," says Ted Tin-ling, the ageless tennis couturier.
For now, Stefano is more concerned with Jennifer's muscles. He has her unkink them after every practice session. Her stretching regimen was prescribed by a sports medicine clinic in Virginia. Stefano took her there a year ago to be evaluated. "We didn't go because she was sick," he says, "but because she was healthy. The program is so advanced, you can prevent certain injuries."
Lying prone on a rubber mat, her legs pointing skyward, Jennifer looks slightly bored. Stefano stands behind her, flexing her legs by pulling them toward him. Jennifer scrunches with discomfort, as if she has just bitten into a lemon. "Ouch!" she says.
"Just 10 more," he says.
"Come on. Ten."
"It's killing me!"