In Toronto last month it was Pam Shriver, 19, leaning across the net to Tracy Austin, 18, and saying, as she later would recall, "two not-so-nice words."
At the U.S. Open last week it was Andrea Jaeger, 16, muttering obscene words while being upset in the second round by Andrea Leand, 17. There was also Pam Casale, 17, being admonished by an official for using an obscenity during her second-round match. And, in the first round, Kathy Rinaldi, 14, was heard using the same nasty word on a number of occasions after missing easy shots.
The teens of tennis are feeling the pressure. Pressure to move up in the computer rankings. Pressure to justify their decisions to turn pro, decisions often influenced by their parents. Pressure to win great sums of money on the women's tour.
"There's so much tension now today on the tour and so much pressure on the girls it's unbelievable they do as well as they do," said Chris Evert Lloyd. "I think between their parents and the computer, they're under pressure constantly.
"I feel very fortunate that I came along when I did. Back then I was the only junior who was playing the pros. Now there's 10 or 15 of them. This isn't like the old country club days. This is the big time. The girls are letting out a lot of steam now."
Evert's parents did not let her turn pro until she was 18 and finished high school. These days, 18 is old. As Austin, a pro at 16, put it, "Sixteen isn't young any more, 14 is."
Which brings up a question, one that clearly worries those who run women's tennis: will fans, sponsors, promoters and television executives accept the idea of teen-age girls standing on the court shouting obscenities at officials and, occasionally, at each other?
"Let's face it -- in this day and age obscenity is a way of life. Everyone uses the words," said Lee Jackson, the touring referee for the Women's Tennis Association and designated disciplinarian. "People should react to women doing it the same way as when men do it. But they don't.
"It's a funny thing but they just won't accept it from women. And age is a factor, too. It bothers people more to hear it from a 16-year-old than from a 19-year-old."
Jackson has spent much of her time here running from court to court when she hears of trouble during a match. She insists that the recent flare-ups are a result of tournaments' not letting the WTA control officiating as it does on the Avon tour. The Canadian Open, where Shriver snapped at Austin, and the U.S. Open are not officiated under the WTA's jurisdiction.
"If they let us run our own show we don't have problems," said Jackson, who umpires all the Avon finals herself. "You can bet in a tournament where I see a match as a potential problem, I'll umpire. And the girls aren't going to act up when I'm there."
Yet even with Jackson at courtside last Friday, Jaeger was close to tears on court over several calls. The moment she stepped off the court, her face was flooded with tears even as Jackson took her arm and hissed, "not now Andrea, not here."
"Maybe stuff like what happened between Tracy and Pam in Toronto is good for women's tennis," said Jaeger. "Now people will be walking around wondering what's going to happen next time they play, what are they saying to each other, are they speaking?
"The men have done that, people seem to like that. If we do it, maybe the men will come up with something to top it, but it might be hard."
Weeks after it happened, the Shriver-Austin incident is still much discussed among women on the tour. The two players came through the ranks together and, although Austin has a big edge in victories, they have an intense rivalry. This year, Shriver beat Austin at Wimbledon in the quarterfinals, so Austin's victory in Toronto was especially sweet.
The second set was full of controversial calls, with Shriver asking for the referee and arguing angrily with the umpire, who was suspended the next day for his handling of the match.
At the end of the match, Austin joyfully slammed a ball to the back wall, yelling, "YES!" after the final point. She came running to net, arms in the air. Shriver, already upset, blew up.
"She just dropped her racket and stood there staring at me," Shriver said. "She said she had never heard those words before. Look, I was wrong to say it and I apologized to Tracy later, but come on, in this day and age, people use those words. I didn't shout it to everyone. In fact no one would have known about it if Tracy hadn't talked about it in the press conference."
In her postmatch press conference, Austin said she was shocked because Shriver had used "the f-word" to her. That statement is the subject of considerable joking around the women's locker room.
Outbursts among younger players are not limited to the tour and not limited to this country. In Australia, John Newcombe and Tony Roche recently launched a player development program. They quickly found that on-court oubursts were becoming prevalent, especially among 12-and-unders of both sexes.
"We finally sat down and told them all that the next time it happened, they would be suspended for a week," Newcombe said. "If it happened again, they'd get a longer suspension and a third time we'd ask them to go elsewhere. If you don't stop them when they're juniors, you'll never stop them later."
Newcombe, 37, is a product of another era. He admits the "John McEnroe let 'em know what you think" behavior bothers him.
"I'm all for fighting for your rights when you think a call is wrong, absolutely," he said. "But that's where it stops. You make your point and get on with it."
And what, Newcombe was asked, would he do if his daughter acted the way some of the tour teens are acting today? "I'd pull her off the court right there and tell her she's not going back until she learns to stop that kind of thing. You can't compromise."
Brian Gottfried, considered one of the tour's current "gentlemen," thinks young players are copying what they see on television.
"I grew up watching guys like Newcombe, Roche, the real gentlemen of the game, and I copied them," he said. "But the last few years, what have they seen? Outbursts, which TV and the newspapers play up. So they follow that example."
The women have an on-tour rule that states any time an umpire gives a player a warning, he or she must call Jackson to the court. But that can't happen here, where the matches are spread out over a sprawling facility. So there are problems and, inevitably, they are seen, written about and discussed.
Images can be, and are, affected. Shriver is already being referred to as "Junior-femme (a female McEnroe)," because she is the top player most likely to react emotionally on court.
"I think we've got a good thing going here," Jackson said. "Sure, there's pressure. Last Friday you saw the little girl come out in Andrea for a moment or two because she faced the idea of losing to someone in her age group. She knew she was wrong. She was put in an adult situation and for a moment she acted like a little girl, which is what she is."