GABI Taylor has credited her new team for her improvement as she prepares to make her Fed Cup debut alongside Great Britain teammates Johanna Konta and Heather Watson.

The 20 year-old is preparing to play in this weekend’s World Group II play-off away to Japan, having earned her spot after an rise up the women’s singles rankings.

She has climbed from 323 to 175, form that has been rewarded with a place alongside Konta, Watson and doubles specialist Anna Smith ahead of Great Britain number four Katie Boulter.

After her Fed Cup debut the former Shirley Junior School pupil will have another chance to continue her inexorable rise by making her Grand Slam debut in the French Open qualifiers.

A big factor behind her progress has been her new head coach Xavier Budo, former coach of Carla Suarez Navarro, who she began working with last November.

He formed a team around Gabi also consisting of David Sunyer, her second travelling coach, a fitness coach, Pep, and physio, Jorge.

Since she started working with her new team in Barcelona she has won four single titles on the International Tennis Federation circuit, and one doubles title, in four months.

“I’ve had a great run this year with a new team around me, I’m really thankful to them for the belief they have in me,” she said.

“I never expected my ranking to improve like it has. They’ve really helped to improve the mental side of my game, which will stand me in good stead.”

Taylor, whose parents still live in Shirley, began playing tennis aged four at David Lloyd in Southampton.

“I started having some individual coaching when I was six or seven and was travelling the country playing tournaments by the time I was 11/12,” she said.

Born in Southampton, Taylor moved to Marbella with her mum Milena when she was 13. She is now based in Barcelona, where she will soon be preparing for next month’s French Open.

But for now her focus is on Great Britain’s first Fed Cup tie against Japan for 33 years.

“I’m really excited, it was an overwhelming feeling to be told I’ll be playing for my country for the first time,” she said.

Gabi knows full well that time spent practising and playing alongside the likes of world No. 23 Konta and Watson, No 77, will be invaluable to her development.

“I’ve practised with Heather Watson before at the National Tennis Centre but not with Johanna,” she said.

“She’s someone I really look up to so it will be really nice to play with both of them for the first time and with Anna too.

“They’re very humble girls and it will be a great experience just to see how they prepare for matches and practice.”

This will be GB’s fourth play-off in seven years.

Previous defeats - against Sweden, Argentina and Romania – denied them promotion and the latter was notorious for the behaviour of Romania coach Ilie Nastase, who was handed a three-year ban from the competition as a result.

This weekend’s tie will be held on an indoor hard court at the Bourbon Beans Dome in Miki .

GB won their previous ties against Japan, in 1972 and 1985. Another win would mean a return to World Group competition for the first time since 1993.

GB Fed Cup captain and LTA Senior National Coach Anne Keothavong said: “We’ve been so close since 2012, hopefully the fourth will be a charm. Our team spirit is second to none and I’m delighted that Fed Cup debutante Gabi Taylor, who has improved her ranking 160 spots in four months, will be in our line-up.”