Yorkshire teenager Kyle Edmund has been backed by Andy Murray and Leon Smith to make a big impact on his Davis Cup debut.
The 19-year-old from Beverley has been named alongside Wimbledon champion Murray, James Ward and doubles specialist Colin Fleming in Britain’s team for their World Group first-round tie with the United States at Petco Park baseball stadium in San Diego next weekend.
Edmund is ranked No 372 in the world, which makes him only the eighth-highest British player on the list, but he has been preferred to the nation’s No 2 Dan Evans for the country’s first top-level tie for six years.
The young Yorkshireman has long been regarded as the brightest male prospect in British tennis and just last weekend won a Futures event on clay in Florida.
Next week’s Davis Cup tie will be played on clay and the powerful baseliner is something of a specialist on the surface, while Evans struggles on the slower terrain.
Edmund won the junior doubles title at the French Open last year and is also a former junior singles quarter-finalist at Roland Garros.
Murray – due to face Roger Federer in the Australian Open quarter-final this morning – has said in the past that he believes Edmund is “physically ready” to make the step up to Davis Cup competition.
He invited the teenager out to his training camp in Miami last month with Edmund set to make a return trip in March.
Edmund will vie for the second singles slot with Ward for next week’s match, with Smith yet to decide who will provide support for Murray.
Smith said: “Both James and Kyle are very much in the frame and if it is Kyle then I’ve got no fears about him playing in that environment. He’s got the game and I think he’s ready to move up quickly this year. He’s put in the hard work to be able to play best of five sets on clay.
“You look at the impression that (Australian teenagers) Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis made at the Australian Open.
“With these young guys it’s about giving them opportunities and the best ones take them and show the world what they can do. Kyle can do that.”
The Davis Cup call will give Edmund a significant boost as he tries to carve out a career on the senior circuit, having left the junior ranks last summer.
The omission is a blow for 23-year-old Evans, who put in a poor performance in front of Smith when losing in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open. Evans then chose to go home rather than travel with Ward to Hawaii for a Challenger tournament, which had been Smith’s plan.
The captain said: “Had this tie been on a fast indoor hard court then he would have been the first name on the teamsheet after Andy, no question.
“It’s a shame that Dan thought he couldn’t go to Hawaii but he had his reasons, it was his choice. He’ll certainly be in the frame for the next tie.”
Smith’s first-choice pairing for the doubles is Murray and Fleming, but Dominic Inglot, the highest-ranked British doubles player, has been called up for the first time as reserve.
There was no place for Jamie Murray, Ross Hutchins or Sheffield’s 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion Jonny Marray.
Hutchins is back playing with Marray’s former partner Fleming after recovering from cancer and had hoped to be selected.
Smith said: “They played really well at the Australian Open and, when fit, Colin and Ross are a pretty strong partnership.
“I felt it was a little bit early for Ross. It’s different playing on clay, it’s different playing best of five sets and it’s different playing the Bryans.”
The world No 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan are part of a strong United States line-up named by captain Jim Courier, which is headlined by singles players John Isner and Sam Querrey.
Britain last won a World Group tie in the competition in 1986.