Late Saturday night, after the kid had defeated Martina Navratilova to move into tonight's final of the Colgate Series championships against Tracy Austin, formerly the kid on the tour, Andrea Jaeger was asked what advice she might offer her opponent.
"Will," said Jaeger, "she can go out and party all night if she wants. That could help her a little."
When Austin, 28, and Jaeger, 15, meet tonight (the third-place playoff between Navratilova and Wendy Turnbull will start at 7 o'clock followed by the final) for the $75,000 first prize, their cumulative age will be four years younger than that of Bille Jean King, the founding mother.
You've come a long way, babies.
The matchup between Austin and Jaeger will pair two blond (only one pigtailed) straight-A students of the baseline game. "I guess I'm supposed to be the next Tracy Austin," Jaeger said with a sigh. "But, boy, am I glad I wasn't the next baseliner after Chris (Evert Lloyd)."
Austin is 4-1 lifetime over her youthful nemesis. But Jaeger's one win, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the quarterfinals at Mahwah, N.J., last summer, makes her the only player younger than Austin to beat her. The next day, Jaeger said, "It's no big deal. It's not like I'm going to go home and put signs up on my wall for the rest of my life that I beat Tracy Austin." There will be no signs this time either, she says.
Roland Jaeger, Andrea's father, believes Jaeger's victory in New Jersey hurt Austin in the U.S. Open. "I think she (Austin) lost confidence and got lulled into a few bad tournaments."
Austin has been in anything but a lull this week. She won the Tucson Open in mid-December and has said she decided to play there so that she would not have the long layoff other players had coming into this championship. wSeeded second, she has played sharper, more consistent, more onesided tennis than anyone else this week. She surrendered only nine games in three matches in gaining the final and disposed of Wendy Trunbull in her semifinal in only 56 minutes Saturday.
Tracy wants this tournament.
Sara Kleppinger, Austin's agent, explained why: "I honestly believe Tracy feels that the No. 1 ranking shouldn't be determined prior to now. If you look at the head-to-head records, it should mean No. 1 isn't decided yet and I think she wants it for that reason."
Austin said: "She's right. It's really close. Chris didn't really play the first three or four months and then she comes in and plays the rest of the year, when all the others have played the whole year."
Jaeger's father said before Saturday's matches: "Tracy wants it. Last year, she just played it, like Andrea is this year. Now people are expectong something of her (Austin)."
His daughter, the eighth-seeder player, has spent most of the week telling people she's just happy to be here and making them glad that she is. When Evert defaulted Thursday sending Jaeger into the semis, Jaeger brought her comic books. Last Monday, while the grown-ups, including Austin, waited for a press conference to begin, Jaeger shot air balls at a basket five feet over her head, saying, "Oh, God," every time she missed. Austin tells you she's normal; Jaeger acts it.
Both players, who once played doubles together in juniors, say they have become closer this week. "She asked me when I got my braces off," Jaeger said. "We both had braces and pigtails at the same time."
Many see Jaeger as the reincarnation of Austin, much the way Austin was seen as the reincarnation of Evert. The two youngsters can be expected to battle from the baseline. However, both have volleyed well in the tournament when the have had to, and the match may hinge on who gets whom to the net.
Austin is more constrained on and off the court. "Tracy is very quiet with the rest of the girls," Roland Jaeger said. "She is drawn in a little. wShe doesn't practice very much with the others and she plays very little doubles.
"We have tried not to take the fun out of it for Andrea. I think Tracy had hardly any fun."
Austin does not accept Jaeger's analysis. It is fun to be Tracy Austin, she says. "I'm very outgoing when you know me," she said. "I don't practice with the others because I have my own coach.
"At the beginning, it was such a thrill to meet all the people and beat them the first time, now I'm more relaxed on the circuit, joking around. It's interesting to see Andrea going through some of the same things. But, I can't walk up to her and say, 'Do this.' She'd say, 'Who is she?" This is so weird. It feels like I'm Chris now, talking about me."