He's come from almost nowhere. John Lloyd's assessment of the journey of Scotland's newest Davis Cup player may show an uncanny appreciation of the delights of Broxburn, but it also reflects the dramatic rise of Colin Fleming.

The 24-year-old, now based in Linlithgow, will make his debut for his country against Ukraine in the doubles rubber of the Europe/Africa Zone tie at Braehead Arena, near Glasgow. This simple statement belies the magnitude of Fleming's achievement.

He is a player who took a break to go back to university to complete his degree. He returned to tennis to pass the most searching of examinations. Llyod, the AEGON Team GB captain, yesterday explained how the Scot had forced his way into the team that includes the singles specialists Josh Goodall and Chris Eaton and doubles player Ross Hutchins.

"Originally when Paul Annacone LTA head men's coach came up with the idea of the play-offs, I loved it," said Lloyd of the tournament last week that crystallised his thoughts about the make-up of the team. "We talked about just having four players in the play-offs, but I liked the idea of increasing it. Colin had almost come from nowhere but had won all these doubles tournaments. It was something like six in a row and I was thinking that six tournaments, whether they be Futures events or whatever, you have to be playing pretty damn well to win them."

He added: "I knew about Colin before he went back to university, so he had been on the radar then and then obviously gone off it. But his run of doubles victories, combined with good singles play, made me like the idea of bringing him. There was flexibility with Colin; I knew he could play both doubles and singles."

Fleming was tested in the play-off atmosphere of Roehampton last week. "I wanted to see how he reacted and he played really well. He deserved his shot and has taken it," said Lloyd.

The Scot sat calmly at the press conference yesterday but he showed he had a quiet, winning confidence. Asked, almost impertinently, what had been his biggest match and if he had played in front of many people, he replied with a dry, native wit: "The biggest crowd would probably be at Wimbledon. I played doubles there. I would be speculating on the number, but quite a few people go to watch at Wimbledon."

Pressed on whatcourt he had played on, he said: "It was not a show court, but there were a lot of people there. About 38 or something." He confessed later it was court 17. Fleming knows, though, that this tie is serious business for a Team GB stripped of Andy Murray, the world No.4. "I am looking forward to playing in front of a lot of people, showing them what I can do."

Each team member must now play to his best. The absence of Murray, suffering from a virus, has stripped the side of two near-guaranteed singles points. Eaton and Goodall must now supply at least that between them to make the doubles rubber relevant.

The match is winnable, but Team GB go in as underdogs. Sergiy Stakhovsky, the Ukrainian No.1, has realistic hopes of beating both Goodall and Eaton, though the latter ran him very close in a previous meeting. This makes the matches against Ilya Marchenko crucial.

Team GB must hope for at least a 1-1 draw after the first singles rubbers today. Then Fleming and Hutchins could make a significant contribution by overcoming Stakhovsky and Sergei Bubka in the doubles tomorrow. Eaton could then be thehero by vanquishing Marchenko on Sunday.

Lloyd, who discarded a "very disappointed" James Ward, has placed faith in Eaton, who performed well in the play-offs. Yet the 21-year-old Englishman has never wonagainst Marchenko or Stakhovsky in a combined three meetings.

That must change this weekend if Team GB are not to be relegated from Europe/Africa Zone Group One. The mood in the camp, though, appears bullish, almost defiant in the absence of their best player.

Lloyd has been pleased with the intensity of the preparations. "We could have played this match two or three days ago. We were ready then," he said.

He dismissed suggestion that his team of rookies had nothing to lose. "That's a cop out," he said. He enlisted the help of the Scottish fans. "Thecrowd have a big part to play."

But he knows that ultimately it is down to the players. A five-set match in a Davis Cup setting is unknown territory for all of them. It will be fascinating to see how they fare on that journey. Though not quite as intriguing as Broxburn, obviously.

World No.125 stands tall in this company SERGIY STAKHOVSKY'S pedigree is comparatively modest yet he is the man Team GB will have to overcome if they are to beat Ukraine, writes Darren Marr.

Stakhovsky, the world No.125 and comfortably Ukraine's most accomplished performer, is bullish ahead of the start of the tie at Braehead Arena. The withdrawal of Andy Murray has left him as the man to beat over the three days and the gangly right-hander from Kiev is confident of handling expectation that goes with it.

"This year I've been playing very well," Stakhovsky said in a succinct but extremely self-assured manner. Evidence of his recent form came in Dubai last month when he pushed Murray to the limits in a three-setter before retiring with an ankle injury at 5-3 down in the final set. A notable win over Ivo Karlovic a few weeks earlier in Zagreb validated the suspicions that this guy can play.

His Davis Cup record also provides daunting reading for Team GB. Stakhovsky is unbeaten in his last nine matches representing Ukraine, a record dating back to April 2007.

Orest Tereshchuk, Ukraine's captain, expressed complete faith in Stakhovsky's ability at yesterday's pre-match press conference, and believes his most experienced player will be key.

Stakhovsky, contesting his seventh Davis Cup tie after making his debut in April 2006 against Belgium, will face Chris Eaton in today's second rubber, after Ilya Marchenko opens proceedings against Josh Goodall. Tereschuk was happy with the prospect of his star man contesting a potentially-decisive fifth rubber against debutant Goodall.

"It would have been better maybe for Sergiy to get us off to a good start, but on the other side, he is more experienced and can find something to do when Ilya is playing," said the captain.

Stakhovsky sneaked past Eaton in a third set tie-break on a hard court in Metz last September in the pair's only previous meeting.