Help Wanted? The games' underachievers get some advice

If you imagine pro tennis players as high-school students, some make the most of their abilities and get A's and B's (see Lleyton Hewitt and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario) while others coast on their talent to pull C's. We're talking about classic underachievers, those who dazzle fans with their strokes but leave them wondering, How come these players don't win more often?

We asked two discerning insiders, Mary Carillo and Brad Gilbert, what words of wisdom they have for a half-dozen pros who should be at the head of their class.

Tommy Haas: Carillo: "He's a baseliner by nature, but he wants this big game. He's got a lot of options, but he needs to figure out how to collate them, to play the right shot at the right time." Gilbert: "For a young guy, he's spent a lot of time on the shell. He's got to stay healthy."

Marat Safin: Carillo: "Safin's (pix, below left) dream isn't so much to win Slams as it is to make money. And he relies too much on the muse. If he had better coaching, he could get over that and become a great champion." Gilbert: "Why this guy doesn't dominate tennis is a mystery to me. He dances to his own tune, but boy would he benefit from better guidance."

Mark Phillippoussis: Carillo: "His key is to get so physically strong that fitness will be his greatest mental asset. Temperamentally he's not that kind of Aussie, but maybe after all these injuries he'll see the light." Gilbert: "He needs to get in 50 times better shape. Then again, maybe he's overtrained, and that's why he's gotten hurt."

Kim Clijsters: Carillo: "She's got a great heart, but she can get streaky. She needs to refocus and stay in matches. As times goes on, she'll learn more about how to create points with her athleticism rather than just react." Gilbert: "I like her dedication. Everyone needs to train more if they want to beat the Williams sisters. If you train harder, you'll be able to improve."

Anna Kournikova: Carillo: "When she was the top junior in the world, she was hungry. That's evaporated. Her strokes look better than they perform. She needs to really think about how she can win points." Gilbert: "She's more talented than most people think, but is she committed twenty-four seven to tennis?"

Amelie Mauresmo: Carillo: "Amelie (pix, below) needs to continue playing more aggressively and beef up the variety in the rest of her game." Gilbert: "She's on a good track. Fitness will help improve her body and mind." — Joel Drucker