Great Britain captain Leon Smith tipped Cameron Norrie for a bright future after the youngster’s encouraging performances proved the silver lining in a Davis Cup defeat to Spain.
World No114 Norrie, who caused a huge upset by winning his singles rubber on Friday, battled gamely in Sunday’s decisive clash with Albert Ramos Vinolas before losing 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in Marbella.
That sealed a 3-1 win for Spain with one rubber to spare, but Smith was full of praise for the emerging 22-year-old, who only turned professional last year.
“I can’t speak highly enough of what Cam has done all weekend,” said Smith.
“People might have thought Friday was a one-off but he did it again against another high-quality player. He pushed him really close and I’m really proud of him. The only way is up for him.”
Britain now face a September play-off to stay in the World Group, meaning that they could be relegated from the top tier of the competition less than three years after winning the Davis Cup.
Their mission was severely hampered by the absence of former world No1 Andy Murray, who is recovering from hip surgery, while in-form British No2 Kyle Edmund travelled with the team but was not selected owing to his own fitness problems.
Spain, who will meet Germany in the next round, were also without their star player, Rafael Nadal, but named a team that included five players ranked among the world’s top 40.
Norrie had given the visitors hope of an unlikely win on Friday when he fought back from two sets down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut.
That levelled the tie at 1-1, after Liam Broady had lost in straight sets to Ramos Vinolas, but Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez put Spain in control when they beat Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot in Saturday’s doubles rubber.