Brisbane, Australia, 26 March 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Taylah Preston revealed she “couldn’t stop smiling” after finding out she was in the Australian team for the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier tie against Mexico.

“I was a bit nervous when I saw (Australian captain) Sam (Stosur) was calling me but luckily it was a very good phone call,” she said.

It is the first time that the 18-year-old from Perth has been selected to represent Australia in the prestigious team competition.

“Playing BJK Cup this season was definitely a goal for me,” Preston said.

“It was something my coach and I mentioned at the end of last year while doing my goals for the next few months, so I’m super happy I can put a tick next to this goal on my list.”

Two years ago, Preston was invited to accompany the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team during their finals campaign.

The then 16-year-old filled the role of ‘orange girl’ in Glasgow, an unofficial and long-held Aussie tradition reserved for a promising player.

At that stage in her young career, Preston had contested only eight professional tournaments and was ranked outside the world’s top 600.

“Being orange girl was such an amazing experience for me,” Preston recalled.

“It definitely helped to motivate me to work hard and be able to be officially on the team as soon as I could.

“We actually had a conversation at dinner one night in Glasgow where they asked me when I think I would be on the team, I’m pretty sure I said ‘a couple of years hopefully’, so that’s pretty cool.”

Despite Preston’s inexperience at the time, her talent and attitude left a lasting impression on experienced team-mate Stosur.

“Even as a 16-year-old orange girl in that tie in Glasgow, she looked like she belonged,” Stosur related.

“That really stuck out for me. I had never met Taylah before that week, but she was professional, she was ready to go for every practice. Obviously, she knew she wasn’t playing because she was the orange girl, but she put her hand up to do absolutely everything.”

It meant Stosur, Australia’s new Billie Jean King Cup captain, had no hesitations selecting the now 18-year-old in the Australian team for the upcoming tie against Mexico.

“It’s exciting for Taylah to have the opportunity to be in the team,” Stosur said.

> READ: Australian team announced for Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier against Mexico

Preston’s promotion to the Australian line-up follows an impressive start to the 2024 season.

Highlights include beating four higher-ranked opponents to reach her biggest career singles final at a WTA 125 tournament in Mexico, scoring a first top-50 win at the WTA 500 event in San Diego and extending world No.20 Caroline Garcia to three sets during the Australian summer.

After starting the year ranked No.208 in singles, Preston now sits at a career-high world No.134.

“The sky’s the limit,” Stosur said of the teen’s potential.

“She’s really moving in the right direction. She’s super professional already and looks like she really wants it.”

Preston will make her Billie Jean King Cup debut in Brisbane from 12-13 April, when Australia faces Mexico in a must-win Qualifier tie.

Tickets for the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Qualifier are now on sale through Ticketmaster. Adult prices start at $20, concessions $16, kids $5 and family passes (two adults and two children) start at $45.

> BUY NOW: Tickets to see Australia play Mexico

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