He's the one that got away. Cameron Norrie's decision to switch allegiances from New Zealand to Britain is starting to pay dividends big time.

The 22 year old has spent the past three weeks practicing in Argentina with the likes of world number 11 Juan Martin Del Potro and 26th ranked Diego Schwartzman.

Norrie was born in South Africa but moved to New Zealand as a toddler and made it into the top 10 in the world junior rankings while playing under the New Zealand flag. But in 2013 he switched to Britain, eligible because his parents were both born in the UK.

"They have great coaches over there and tennis is a big hub in Europe. They have great physios and nutritionists. I was lucky enough to get wildcards into some of the big tournaments like main draw Queens and Wimbledon this year. Everything is going well for me now." Norrie said.

Advertisement

Norrie went through the US college system at Texas University before turning pro earlier this year. He was ranked 277 in July but had a phenomenal first few months on tour since going pro to end the year ranked 114. He reached the second round of the US Open in September, beat world number 49 Horacio Zeballos in the first round of the Queen's grass court tournament in July and had some strong results on the ATP Challenger tour.

"I am really stoked with how I am doing and playing. I was still at college for the first five months of the year so I am a bit surprised with how well I did so early."

"My game has just been a steady progression." Norrie said. "The biggest improvements have come with my concentration and match practice and ability to play my best tennis more often. I have got a little bit more mature and bigger physically and I am using that and competing really hard week in and week out and it's paying dividends."

Norrie is coached by an Argentine who he met at TCU, Facundo Lugones who organised the off season training camp in Buenos Aires.

"There are obviously a lot of great Argentine players. The last couple of days I have been hitting with Del Potro who hasn't said too much to me but we have had high level practices. I have also been hitting with Diego Schwartzman, who is top 30, (Leonardo) Mayer, (Horacio) Zeballos, these guys play a great level every day." Norrie said.

"It's great to practice with them and see their professionalism and let their level of tennis and ball striking rub off on me. It's been the perfect place for me to knuckle down and work hard and improve my tennis, so I'm very lucky."

Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion is the star billing for next month's ASB men's Classic. He has had an injury plagued career since that stunning success in New York. He is back on the cusp of the top ten following a superb season and has a forehand described by John McEnroe as the best in the sport.

Del Potro was supposed to play at this year's Classic after accepting a wildcard but withdrew due to injury. However Norrie can't see that happening this time.

Advertisement

"He didn't say a word to me the last couple of days while we've been hitting, but he's hitting the ball well and so I'm sure he will be a big favourite in Auckland."

Norrie, who would possibly have been offered a main draw wildcard into Auckland due to his Kiwi heritage, won't be back however.

"The plan was to come back and play the ASB Classic but I missed out on the main draw of the Australian Open by about 10 spots." Norrie said. He will have to play qualifying in Melbourne the week of the ASB Classic. "But it is what it is and I can't expect to be in main draw in Aussie in my first year in professional tennis. But I've never played well there (in Auckland) so maybe I would think about playing Sydney. But Auckland's a great place and a great tournament and its good prep for the Australian Open the following week."

New Zealand hasn't had a top men's singles player since Brett Steven in the 1990's. Norrie has no plans to consider switching back to the country where he learnt how to play the sport. He is a certainty to play on Britain's Davis Cup team next year, and is currently ranked third among the British men behind Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund.

Norrie who practiced with Murray before Wimbledon, says the Scot who hasn't played since Wimbledon due to a hip injury, may not play Davis Cup next year which would mean a singles spot for Norrie.

Norrie still follows the New Zealand tennis scene and is astounded by the success of French Open doubles champion Michael Venus this year.

"I have seen Venus around at the US Open. He's had a phenomenal year and he's a great guy and I wish him the best of luck!

Living the dream, Cameron Norrie has another week in Buenos Aires before he heads to Noumea for an ATP Challenger tournament ahead of his tilt at qualifying for the Australian Open.