Hawke's Bay tennis coach Luke Donovan always knew former protege Rhett Purcell had the goods to represent New Zealand at Davis Cup level.
"Rhett has a good work ethic. He also has a good attitude towards his tennis and is really positive," Greendale's Donovan said after hearing of Purcell's selection in the New Zealand squad for this weekend's Asia Oceana Group 2 Davis Cup tie against Indonesia in Jakarta.
Purcell, 23, is expected to be chosen for the singles rubbers alongside 20-year-old Ajeet Rai and when he takes the court it will be his debut for the New Zealand senior side. Nineteen-year-old Macsen Sisam will also join the squad as New Zealand captain Alistair Hunt prepares for the future.
Donovan coached Purcell for five years before he left the Bay in 2008. He still keeps in regular contact with Purcell and his parents Mike and Tracy and they attended his wedding in January.
"While Rhett was here in the Bay I took him down to the club for a session with our juniors. They loved it and were quite inspired," Donovan recalled.
Former Greendale and Nelson Park club player Purcell reached No 2 on the national rankings last year. He had a career high world doubles ranking of 382 last month and has had a career high world singles ranking of 749.
"Rhett is stoked to have reached this level. Both Mike and I will be heading up there to support him too," his mother Tracy said today.
"It's exciting that finally we can get some young guys coming through. They are going to get an opportunity and we will see what they can do," Hunt said.
Veteran singles player Rubin Statham has been sidelined this year due to injury and Michael Venus has finally decided he doesn't want to play singles any more having become one of the best doubles exponents in the world. World No 10 Venus is likely to be picked alongside Marcus Daniell to play the doubles rubber although Kiwi No 3 Artem Sitak is also an option.
"Mike's been a huge asset in the past and has had some huge wins for the team. We would love him to play but we totally understand why he's concentrating on doubles. What a great luxury we have to have both Marcus and Artem who can play the doubles. Hopefully it puts us in good stead," Hunt added.
Purcell's father is a former Hawke's Bay, Canterbury, Whanganui and Central Districts representative and when he was in the Bay he had stints as principal at Wairoa College and Karamu High School.