At 29 years old, Edouard Roger-Vasselin recently reached a career-high ranking in tennis, 65th-best in the world. He has yet to win a singles title and has earned almost $1.8 million in his career. He's 6-foot-2, wiry and unassuming—even ardent tennis fans might fail to notice him if he passed by on the sidewalk. In tennis, though, Roger-Vasselin is an exceedingly rare player: the child of a former top pro. Of all the men and women who appeared at this year's Wimbledon, Roger-Vasselin is the only one ranked inside the top 100 who had a parent who also ranked inside the top 100.
Other sports are famous for their family dynasties. Baseball has its Griffeys, football its Mannings, car racing its Earnhardts, Andrettis and Unsers. The combination of athletic genes and free-of-charge coaching would seem a perfect fit for tennis, a sport that requires intricate training from early childhood. If anything, the game should be thick with family trees.
Yet in talks with dozens of pros past and present, all said that while they would likely introduce their children to the sport they love, none would urge them to turn pro. These parents could be passing wisdom on to their children—secrets to master the technique, tactics and mental pressure of tennis—but they are reticent tennis parents. They know too much about the downside.