Hewitt begins Australia’s Davis Cup climb

Lleyton Hewitt has wasted no time making his mark on Australia’s Davis Cup team, convening an unprecedented training camp this week.

The new captain has assembled Australia’s young tennis stars in Melbourne for a week of training – with a difference.

There’s been basketball, a cycling pump class, stair climbs and more.

The 34-year-old, who will retire as a player after his 20th Australian Open in January, has succeeded just by getting his crew together.

Top-ranked Australian pair Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios might have skipped the Newcombe Medal awards on Monday night, but they have enjoyed Hewitt’s boot camp along with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Sam Groth and others likely to line up in the green and gold next year.

Kokkinakis, 19, said the camp was a breath of fresh air as he prepares for the Australian summer events.

“He’s a captain but he’s working just as hard as any of us if not harder so it’s great to watch him and lead by example,” he told AAP.

“It’s good bonding.”

Australian Davis Cup doubles hero Todd Woodbridge is watching on with just a hint of envy.

Woodbridge, who won the crucial doubles tie in Australia’s last two Davis Cup triumphs in 1999 and 2003, praised Hewitt for breaking new ground.

“I always found it hard to come back to Australia because there was no-one organising training, it’s something we didn’t do,” he said.

“It’s a great initiative. He’s starting a new role, he wants to create a new environment.”

Hewitt is far from an onlooker himself.

True to form, Kokkinakis said the Wimbledon champion was a feisty competitor in all of their activities as he keeps his form through to his farewell event.

Woodbridge is convinced Hewitt’s fortitude and the talent at his disposal will allow Australia to succeed.

“They’ve got a young team that can win it,” he said.

“I give it five years to win a Cup or maybe two within that period.

“This is the first time since 2003, 2004, 2005, that we’ve got a team where with a bit of luck we can do it.”

If Australia had won its Davis Cup semi-final against Great Britain in September, they would be playing in the final this weekend against Belgium.

Instead, Australia is re-grouping for a first-round tie against the United States in February.

On Thursday, Kokkinakis and Woodbridge launched the `Second Serve’ initiative, which asks tennis players to donate old racquets to be regifted to disadvantaged children.

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