Former Hawke's Bay junior tennis representative Rhett Purcell celebrated his Davis Cup debut with a victory at the weekend.
A former Greendale and Nelson Park club player, Purcell, 23, fought back from a set and 3-0 down to win the second singles rubber and put New Zealand in control after day one of the Asia Oceania Group 2 Davis Cup tie against Indonesia in Jakarta. He beat Indonesian No 1 David Agung Susanto 3-6, 6-4 6-0 to put New Zealand 2-0 up after Ajeet Rai had earlier got the Kiwis off to the perfect start.
Rai defeated Indonesian No 2 M Rifki Fitriadi 7-6, 6-3 to put New Zealand one rubber up. Purcell, who had beaten Susanto in straight sets in their only previous meeting in 2017, struggled for a set and a half in the second rubber. He was broken early and dropped serve again as Susanto took the opening set 6-3.
Purcell then dropped his opening service game in the second set and quickly trailed 3-0. However, he dug deep and showed some real resilience to fight his way back into the set and broke Susanto for the first time in the seventh game to get back on serve at 3-4. After holding serve Purcell broke again and then served out the set to force a decider.
Having won four straight games, the Kiwi, who had parents Mike and Tracy in the crowd, was on a roll and he maintained the momentum in the third set and in the end cruised to the victory, a fantastic result on debut.
Greendale professional Luke Donovan coached Purcell for five years before he left the Bay in 2008. Purcell's father is a former Hawke's Bay, Canterbury, Whanganui and Central Districts tennis representative and when he was in the Bay he had stints as principal at Wairoa College and Karamu High School.
In the first match, Rai saved four set points in the first-set tie break at 2-6 before coming back to win it 9-7. It proved critical as he gained the ascendency early in the second set and went on to complete a comfortable win in the end.
World-class Kiwi doubles players Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell clinched the tie with a 6-0, 6-2 victory against Ari Fahresi and Anthony Susanto.