In the Current Climate of the women's tour, a teenager with a tennis father might consider the Manson family relatively functional, so Lindsay Davenport can count herself lucky. The 17-year-old Chadwick High senior from Murrieta, Calif., has a volleyball father: Wink Davenport, a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic team.
Dad, along with Mom, Ann, who serves on the board of the U.S. Volleyball Association, and sisters Leiann, who played at UC Irvine, and Shannon, who's currently on the team at St. Mary's College of California, all share the same perspective—that an overhead is a spike and a half volley is illegal. All of that's just fine by Lindsay, who upset 15th-seeded Amanda Coetzer 6-1, 6-2 in the third round of the Open last Friday before losing a hard-fought three-set battle, in which she saved five match points, to No. 5 seed Gabriela Sabatini on Sunday. "The main thing they do is keep tennis at a distance," Davenport says of her family. "It's been a huge help. We don't really discuss my game at all. If my mom or dad said, 'Oh, you hit your backhand wrong,' I'd get upset."
Davenport and another 17-year-old, Chanda Rubin, are considered the top U.S. female hopes for the future. Davenport, who won both the singles and doubles titles at last year's U.S. Open Junior Championships, so routinely shut out opponents while playing the junior circuit that she picked up the nickname Bagel. In only her second pro tournament, the Virginia Slims of Florida in March, she upset Sabatini—and celebrated by returning to her hotel room to do some homework. She had carried a 4.0 average upon turning pro a week earlier at the Evert Cup in Indian Wells, Calif., and though it has been harder to keep up her studies since then, she's committed to graduating with her class. "Mary Joe Fernandez kind of maintained both lives, and I thought that was really neat," she says. "It's something I'm trying to do." With her elimination from the Open on Sunday evening, she'll be only one day late for the start of her school year.
Davenport's former coach, Robert Lansdorp, is the man who groomed the young Tracy Austin, so it's not surprising that Lindsay has bruising ground strokes. "She likes to hit the ball hard into the corner," says Sabatini. "Very, very hard." But at 6'2" and 150 pounds, Davenport has the ranginess to someday become a serve-and-volleyer. That volley business should at least mean something around the family dinner table.
Last year's U.S. Open junior champion, a high school senior, proved she's ready to play with the big girls.