Andrea!" shouts Roland Jaeger. "Andrea! Andrea! Look at that! Andrea, you're leaning backward on your backhand! Andrea, do you hear me?"
Jaeger is at The Courts On 22, where he is a teaching tennis pro, standing on a balcony from which he can study a practice session involving his daughters Andrea, 14, who is the latest deluxe model off America's junior tennis assembly line, and Susy, 17, and Steve Casati, a fellow pro. Jaeger has spotted a flaw in Andrea's backhand, and he's beginning to act like a farmer who has just discovered worms in his corn.
"Andrea! Do you hear me?"
"Whaaat?" shouts his daughter, finally glancing up in exasperation.
"Your shoulder's not staying down on your backhand. There, you did it again. Andrea, you've got to keep that shoulder down!"
"Darn it," Jaeger says, turning away. "I haven't been paying enough attention to her. Now she's got a problem...." And he starts seething on the balcony, where he is surrounded by tennis mothers who spend hours each day talking among themselves, often nastily, about some girl or boy who's suspected of cheating.
A bit later Andrea calls to Jaeger, "Dad, what's for dinner?"
"Don't worry about that. It doesn't matter," he replies. "Keep your shoulder down!"
"I'm starved," protests Andrea. She has been on the court for almost three hours. Tomorrow will be Saturday, which means she'll be able to practice longer.
The Jaeger family lives in a suburb of Chicago called Lincolnshire, their house nestled in a tranquil subdivision where the streets are named after the haunts and characters of Robin Hood. For example, the Jaeger (pronounced yayger) house is on Sheffield Court. With its quaint Old English trappings and its placid appearance, Lincolnshire seems an unlikely spot to find people consumed with competitive passion, to discover a family that applies Germanic diligence and order to the pursuit of junior championships. But among the Jaegers, and especially for Andrea, tennis has always been a four-letter word—WORK. There is evidence of this readily at hand: an inside wall of the Jaeger garage is stained with oil smears, a reminder of Andrea's first encounter with tennis. Wearing a coat, gloves and boots against sub-freezing cold, she hit balls against the garage wall for hours one winter, each shot picking up a blob of oil from the floor, to prove to her parents that she was old enough for tennis lessons. She was seven.