TORONTO — As far as learning experiences go, Denis Shapovalov endured a doozy the last time he was on court for Canada in Davis Cup play.
The rising tennis star fired a ball in frustration that struck the chair umpire in the face and resulted in a match disqualification last February. Britain advanced with the victory while Canada fell into a qualification playoff.
The 18-year-old Shapovalov will soon get a chance to atone for his actions. He’ll headline a lineup tasked with keeping Canada in the elite World Group for 2018 in next week’s tie against India at Edmonton’s Northlands Coliseum.
“For him, that February incident is very far behind him,” Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau told a conference call Tuesday. “He’s had a lot of pressure situations since and he’s shown how he’s improved and how he can manage his emotions through the ups and downs of a match.
“He’s been doing that ever since.”
Shapovalov will be joined by Davis Cup veterans Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver and Toronto’s Daniel Nestor along with first-time nominee Brayden Schnur, also from Toronto. World No. 11 Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., was not available for selection due to a wrist injury.
India previously announced that its roster would include world No. 158 Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan (No. 155), Saketh Myneni (No. 490) and Rohan Bopanna (No. 17 in doubles). The visitors are looking for promotion after spending the last six years at the zone group level.
India defeated Uzbekistan 4-1 in the Asia/Oceania Group I second round last April. Canada, which dropped a 3-2 decision to Britain after the Shapovalov DQ in Ottawa, has played in the 16-team World Group since 2012.
Canada currently holds the No. 16 position in the Davis Cup rankings, two spots ahead of India. This will be their first meeting in Davis Cup competition.
Shapovalov currently holds the No. 69 position on the ATP Tour’s singles rankings. Pospisil is ranked 78th, Schnur holds the No. 192 spot and Nestor is ranked 42nd in doubles.
Shapovalov enjoyed a strong run of form at lower-level events this season but truly emerged last month with a breakout performance at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. He upset current world No. 1 Rafael Nadal en route to his first semifinal appearance at a Masters 1000 level tournament.
The lanky left-hander from Richmond Hill, Ont., followed that up with an impressive showing at the U.S. Open. He advanced through the qualifiers and knocked off 12th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before eventually losing in the fourth round.
“Really he has an opportunity now to carry that (momentum) into the Davis Cup,” Laurendeau said.
Shapovalov, who will be making his third career Davis Cup appearance, was fined $7,000 by the International Tennis Federation for his actions at TD Place. Umpire Arnaud Gabas suffered a fractured bone under his left eye and needed surgery to repair it.
Shapovalov apologized and has said he learned about controlling his emotions from the incident.
“I think he’s shown that he turned that experience into a very positive one,” Laurendeau said. “He’s the first one to mention how it’s made him a better player and a better person. He’s moved on pretty convincingly from that experience and turned it into a positive.
“He has another chance now to go out and play for his country.”
The draw is scheduled for Sept. 14, a day before the first pair of singles matches. The doubles match is set for Sept. 16 and the two remaining singles matches will be played Sept. 17.
Pospisil, 27, has a 16-14 career mark in Davis Cup action while Nestor, 45, holds the Canadian Davis Cup record with 47 career victories. Schnur, 22, a three-time all-American at the University of North Carolina, picked up two ITF Pro Circuit titles this year in his first pro season.
The loser of the tie will fall into Group I of the regional zones, one step below the top tier.