19-year-old Ajeet Rai could make his debut for New Zealand in next month's Asia Oceania zone Group 1 relegation tie against South Korea in Gimcheon on September the 14th and 15th.
Tennis NZ High Performance Manager Simon Rea and team captain Alistair Hunt have today named a five strong team with Rai who attended a tie against in April last year, becoming a fully-fledged member of the team for the first time.
He joins seasoned pros Michael Venus, Rubin Statham, Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell in the squad.
Hunt says it's going to be a very difficult tie.
"We are going to have to be ready for a tough assignment playing a strong team away from home. But it's a great opportunity and our guys will have to be at their top end level," Hunt said.
"It's fantastic for Ajeet to be part of the team and it will be a great learning experience for him."
Rea says Rai is a genuine option to play a live singles rubber.
"He was the unofficial orange boy when we hosted Korea last year. This time he forces his way into the squad on his merits and it's a byproduct of his body of work in recent months," Rea said.
Rai, who is ironically playing an ITF Futures tournament in Gimcheon this week, has only been out on tour for a few months in the early days of his transition from the junior ranks. But he has notched up some encouraging results with 16 wins and 8 defeats. His ranking is 1154 but that's seen as largely irrelevant because he's at the beginning of his pro career.
"Mike (Venus) has continued to put his hand up to help in whatever capacity he can and has a really strong Davis Cup singles record. Mike himself would acknowledge that doubles is his absolute priority these days and so we treat each tie differently as to which combination gives us our strongest chance to pull off the result we are after. That's where the preparation on the ground in Korea is important. We anticipate Mike will put his hand up to play singles, but Ajeet is a very real prospect to play a live singles for us and we will need him to prepare accordingly," Rea said.
18-year-Macsen Sisam went with the team at Rai's expense to China in February and Rea says he's certainly not out of the picture.
"Macsen contributed strongly in China and he's just getting some momentum under his belt with regards to his body," Rea said.
Rea is delighted Davis Cup Michael Venus, Rubin Statham, Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak remain committed to Davis Cup.
"They put their hand up for national representation with a minimum of fuss and discussion and they understand the importance of this tie," Rea said.
The loser of the tie which is being played on an indoor hard court will be relegated to Asia Oceania Group 2 for 2019 while the winner will remain in Group 1.
Davis Cup team to play Korea in Gimcheon September 14-15
Rubin Statham age 31, ranking 514
Michael Venus age 30 doubles ranking 18
Artem Sitak age 32 doubles ranking 36
Marcus Daniell age 28 doubles ranking 44
Ajeet Rai age 19, singles ranking 1154