They are the young and the wealthy of tennis, living the global existence of the jet set. Frequently, they are approached by sponsors offering them a megabucks high.

But in a life that knows no speed limits, some of tennis' top players say they are also approached by people who know no legal limits--people offering them drugs and a very different sort of high.

"The problem is that we travel a lot and meet a lot of people," said Yannick Noah of the French Cameroons, who is 22 and ranked No. 13 in the world. "Like when you go to South America, people come up to you with drugs. You just say 'No! Get away!' "

"Everywhere you go, drugs are available," said Mel Purcell, a 23-year-old Kentuckian ranked No. 21 in the world. "In the Bahamas you are approached by the natives and in New York you are approached by people on the streets."

Noah and Purcell insist the drug offers on the tennis tour are not simply a case of supply meeting demand, but rather a part of the fast life. Both say they do not use illegal drugs such as cocaine, and say they have not seen other top players use them, either.

They also are aware of the recent flood of stories--most ominously, of the story in Sports Illustrated written by former NFL player Don Reese--about alleged drug abuse in professional football.

But they say football is different from tennis, where the only fury of collision is racket meeting ball. They say drugs can't improve performance in tennis.

Said Noah, who three years ago created a controversy by telling a French magazine several top players used drugs ("I was misunderstood and I was only 19. I mentioned players' names and that was bad," he says now): "I think tennis is different than other sports. I don't think you can use drugs and play better. Some matches are long and you need your mind clear."

Said Purcell, who considers himself "a little like Huck Finn and a little like Vitas Gerulaitis," thereby living a life of fiction and friction, "You can't take drugs to improve your play in tennis. It's not like football. It's more of a mental game than a physical game."

Purcell smiled his playboy bumpkin grin, ran his hand through his blond hair and added, "I wouldn't be surprised if some top players in tennis used cocaine. But I wouldn't be surprised if people in Congress and the White House used it, too."

In Friday's Washington Post, Arthur Ashe, U.S. Davis Cup captain and a member of the Men's Professional Tennis Council, suggested that tennis' governing elite should give random postmatch urinalyses to monitor drug abuse in tennis.

Unlike the NFL, where a similar concept has brought complaints of invasion of privacy from the players association, the reaction among tennis players is split. Tennis, after all, is an international sport of individuals with varied philosophies.

Said Mexico's Raul Ramirez, 29, ranked No. 18, "I would feel strange going through with these tests because I have never done anything like it. I certainly wouldn't fight it, though. But I would think guys like Connors, McEnroe, Gerulaitis and Lendl would not like to go through with it. They don't even like talking to the press."

In a young man's sport, Jimmy Arias and Rodney Harmon represent the voice of adolescence. Their thoughts are full of idealism.

Arias, 17, ranked No. 79 in his second year as a professional, said, "I don't think the tests would be a bad idea. I sure would not be afraid to take the test."

Harmon, a 20-year-old member of the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team, who, like Arias, played in yesterday's quarterfinals of the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic, said, "I think it would protect the credibility of the game. After all, it's the fans who really pay the salaries. They deserve to see the players at their best."

Hans Gildemeister, 26, ranked No. 57, said, "I think it would be good for the players. I'm not saying the players use cocaine or other drugs, but it would be good for the public to know. They have given tests in World Cup soccer for a long time, so I don't think it would be a problem in tennis."

Ashe discovered Noah during a goodwill tour to Africa several years ago. It was therefore surprising when Noah spoke out against Ashe's recommendation for urinalysis, not because of the idea, but because of the originator. Noah said, "Maybe the idea is good, but I don't like it when someone outside the game comes in. I respect Arthur, but this idea must come from someone in the game.

"I don't think it would be an invasion of privacy. Players who use drugs should come out of the game. Maybe if they do the testing for a year and then no one uses drugs, well then it's good for the game," Noah said.

Purcell said, "It's nobody's business what players do."

Of course, most players would not incriminate themselves or others on the subject of drug abuse. It would be akin to double-faulting purposely a match point: you just don't do it.

But generalizations in the absence of elaborations can be telling:

"I've never seen drug use in the locker room," Noah said.

What about use by top tennis players for recreational purposes?

"That's a different story," he said.

Said Purcell, "People are looking for drug use everywhere, now with what has happened in football. I knew sooner or later it would reach tennis. People start rumors because they are jealous.

"You have to realize cocaine and drugs would take a lot out of you and, for that reason, the top players don't take it to improve their play."

What about use by top tennis players for recreational purposes?

"It gets lonely being on the road--a little room service, a little TV," Purcell said. "Yeah, with all the money and all the hotels, it is open to us."