Tennis: NZ's Ajeet Rai using lockdown as extended training camp

Kiwi tennis prospect Ajeet Rai is savouring the comforts of home, having rejoined his family in Taranaki for his time in COVID-19 lockdown.

"It's pretty good being back on Mum's cooking," Rai told Newshub. "I've actually put on some weight, so I'm pretty happy about that."

After recovering from a stifling back injury last year, the 21-year-old - currently ranked No.2 in NZ singles - has been steadily improving, particularly in the doubles realm. 

Rai reached back-to-back finals on the ITF's South-East Asia tour in November, finishing runner-up in each.

He got another taste of Davis Cup in January, when he was part of New Zealand's win in their tie against Venezuela.

Now hunkered down at home, Rai says he's started to establish a consistent daily training routine, which includes working with his trainer over Facetime.

"I've made a makeshift court downstairs," he said. "Mum and dad's cars all get put on the road, and I have a little net that my dad used to use when he coached little kids.

"I hit against my brother because he used to play pretty good tennis.

"I have a wall as well, and then I'm doing about two-to-three hours of physical training a day.

"If I'm not in good shape by the time this isolation is over then I'm doing something wrong."

The extended break from competition has actually provided a rare opportunity to strengthen some areas of weakness in his game, Rai adds.

"I don't think anyone's had time to sit back and have six weeks of working at something religiously for without being interrupted by having to go to a tournament

"The pre-season is only really four weeks, so I'm definitely working really hard on a lot of things I've needed to work on over the years.

"It's been a long time since Ive had a little break so I'm just trying to make the most of it."

While there's obviously uncertainty regarding what the remainder of 2020 will look like competition-wise, all Rai is concerned with is getting matchplay under his belt.

Tennis NZ has also indicated it would look to stage some local competitions should international travel remain an impossibility long-term.

"At the end of the day, I don't care where I am. I just want to be on the court playing matches."