Young New Zealand pro Ajeet Rai has captured his first ITF Futures title at the US $15,000 tournament in Hua Hin in Thailand.
The 19-year-old has shown tremendous fight and resilience to storm back from a break down in the final set to beat another 19-year-old, Indian second seed Manish Sureshkumar 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in a marathon final, lasting 2 hours 37 minutes.
Rai was tenacious in the deciding set. After being broken to love in the 6th game to trail 4-2, he broke straight back. He then held, broke again and served out the match, winning four straight games to clinch the title.
Rai's opponent was ranked nearly 500 places above the Kiwi heading into the final. But Rai will now climb from 1034 to around the top 800 in the ATP rankings after the best week of his young career.
It's a huge breakthrough result for Rai who last month spent a week as a fully-fledged member of the New Zealand Davis Cup team in the tie in South Korea. He said at the time it was a massive learning experience seeing the professionalism of his teammates with Mike Venus, Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell seasoned pros on the ATP doubles circuit.
Rai clearly took away plenty from his Davis Cup experience and will gain a lot of confidence from his performance this week where he also made the doubles final in Hua Hin.