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The next day, Lori would be there again.
"Kosten 6-0, 6-0."
The officials would look up curiously. Lori could see them thinking: Is this girl special?
The first time she played Andrea Jaeger, in the 12-and-under division at the Southern Open, when they both were 10, Lori lost one game in two sets. She practiced with members of the Memphis State University men's team. Crowds would gather. Lori knew people were watching, and talking about her.
That same year, at the Orange Bowl tournament, she was leading Jaeger 3-0 in the second set after having lost the first. On the changeover, Andrea, a friend, said to Lori, "You're fat. You're ugly. And nobody likes you." Lori lost the next six games.
Altogether, some 90,000 boys and girls play in local, sectional and national age-group tennis tournaments in the U.S., and for the vast majority of them the game is a healthy endeavor. But for the elite, those with national rankings and aspirations of playing professionally, tennis often isn't a game but a way of life. As a result, perhaps no other sport adversely affects so many youngsters or demands so much of them mentally and emotionally. It can destroy as much as build, not only the participants, but families and friendships as well.
"I've never felt the pressure, not at Wimbledon, not at the U.S. Open, nowhere, that I went through in junior tennis," says Chris Evert Lloyd. "I still get chills thinking about it. Every match was life or death. I remember playing one of my best friends. We must have played 100 times. And before each match, I would almost get physically ill. I beat her every time. And the next time, I would get sick again."
A few months ago, Lori's mother, Marilyn, asked her daughter if she missed playing the Easter Bowl, a major junior event. "I miss the tournament," said Lori. "I don't miss throwing up before the matches."
In 1969 the fathers of Dick Stockton and Harold Solomon got into a fistfight at the Orange Bowl tournament during a match between their sons. Since then, with more and more professional players making immense sums of money, the competition on the junior level has become even stiffer, the pressure on the kids more intense—and parental striving more acute. "They're out of control," says Nick Bollettieri, who runs a tennis academy for junior players in Longboat Key, Fla. "In other sports, if your coach yells at you, you still have your parents to turn to. Your parents yell, who do you turn to?"