16 June 2010

16/06/2010 12:17:05 p.m.

The New Zealand Davis Cup team for the BNP Paribas Asia/Oceania Group II semifinal against Pakistan, July 9-11 indoors at the TSB Hub in Hawera, Taranaki has been confirmed with two new players set to debut.

USA-based players Michael Venus and Austen Childs  (below) are the two new faces for the team after both have had major success in recent times in the US College system and ITF Futures.

They join Rubin Statham and Marcus Daniell as the two other players along with team captain Marcel Vos.

Childs, (21) became the first New Zealander to ever make the final of the NCAA earlier this month beating a number of seeded players along the way. He is currently ranked at 19 in the NCAA rankings while studying at the University of Louisville.

Childs, who was born in Mt Maunganui was a finalist at the 2009 NZ Pascoes the Jewellers Residentials in December where he was beaten by Daniell, and was a former quarterfinalist at the Australian Open juniors.

Venus, 22 was born in New Zealand but has spent most of his teenage years living in the United States, graduated from the Louisiana State University after transferring from the University of Texas during his sophomore year (2006-07).

He has a current ATP ranking of 530 in singles and 566 in doubles which is expected to rise next week after he won both the singles and doubles (with Daniell) at a Futures tournament in California last week.

He has two Futures singles titles to his credit and four doubles titles.

The senior player in the team will be Statham, (23) who has been as high at 294 in the world, but has a current rank of 413.

Statham has been in the New Zealand team for the past six years and has an impressive 13 wins from 16 matches in Davis Cup

He reached the second round of singles at the 2010 Heineken Open and has made the doubles semifinals of two Challengers this year and the doubles final of one Futures.

He has four Futures singles titles to his credit and four finals appearances as well as having a best result of semifinals Challenger tournament.

In January Daniell (20) became the first New Zealander for over 10 years to win the doubles at the Heineken Open. He teamed with Romanian Horia Tecau to score a string of upsets, never being overawed by the situation.

He now has a doubles ranking of 200 and singles of 651. It is expected that these rankings will improve once the Futures title he won with Venus is added on.

Team captain Vos is pleased with the form his team has at present.

“I am delighted with our Davis Cup line-up and the inclusion of Michael Venus and Austen Childs into our squad. Both newcomers have shown great form of late, Venus winning his second future last week here in California and Childs reaching the final of the NCAA Collegiate Championship, so the timing is right,” says Vos who is in California at a Futures tournament with Statham, Venus and Daniel.

“Add to that Heineken Open doubles Champion Marcus Daniell and our leading Davis Cup veteran Rubin Statham who is still only 23. He has played a key role for us in many ties over the last five years. I feel we have an exciting squad all with great desire to represent New Zealand in Davis Cup and into the future. We’re looking forward to the challenge against Pakistan and hope Kiwi tennis fans will come out and support our exciting team in Hawera.”

The Pakistan team are likely to name Aisam Qureshi and Aqeel Khan in their squad. Thirty-year-old Qureshi has a current ATP doubles ranking of 42 and was ranked as high as 125 in singles, however he has now let that slide to 1065 to concentrate solely on doubles. He won the doubles title at Johannesburg and was a finalist at Casablanca and Nice this year.

Khan has one ATP point for a ranking of 1445, although he has been as high as 349 in 2004.

Kiwi No1 Dan King-Turner was not available for selection for the tie as he has playing commitments in Europe.

New Zealand has a one win, one loss record against Pakistan in Davis Cup.

Tennis NZ would like to thank domestic sponsors Slazenger, Graphix Explosion, Radio Sport, Taranaki Like No Other and Tickedirect.

Tickets are now on sale from ticketdirect www.ticketdirect.co.nz or 0800 4 TICKET with 10% early bird discounts before 25th June.