Melbourne Park, 11 December 2012 | Natalie Yoannidis

Five years ago, Jessica Moore had the tennis world talking.

A promising youngster from rural Western Australia, Moore burst on the WTA circuit in 2007.

She made her Australian Open debut in front of thousands of people against Svetlana Kuznetsova at the tender age of 16.

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Then in 2008 she became the youngest Australian female to win a match at the Australian Open since Jelena Dokic, on her way to reaching a career-high ranking of 132.

This was all before she was legally permitted to drink or drive.

But tennis took its toll on Moore, so much so she opted for time away from the sport to seriously question her future.

“I kind of wanted to try a few different things. I worked in a restaurant doing night shifts, which was brutal. Then I worked in personal training at Fitness First, which I loved,” she said.

“Then I just did some coaching and I started to miss it again and just got back into it slowly.”

Moore made her comeback to the ITF circuit in March this year. In the time that has elapsed between then and now she has managed to reduce her WTA ranking to 413.

“I guess it just took its toll a bit. I just thought I really had to see what else was out there just to make sure this is what I want to do,” Moore said about her absence from the sport.

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“I’m glad I did it because it makes me appreciate what I’m doing now so it was probably the best thing I’ve done.”

Her rise to the top level of the game occurred rapidly. One minute she was a 12-year-old leaving her family home for boarding school, the next she was travelling the world playing Grand Slam tournaments.

“At the time it was pretty exciting because it all just happened … whether I was ready for it or not I’m not sure,” she said.

She also had some wise words for the next generation of Australian female tennis players.

“Just to really take their time and really try to work on their games as much as possible, because they have lots of time,”

“Sometimes I think we try to make it too early and we think that if we haven’t made it by 17 we’re not going to make it, that’s how I felt.”

While her comeback to the top level is not yet complete, today Moore took her first step towards securing a return to the event where she first signalled her arrival.

She won the first round of her Australian Open 2013 Play-off campaign against up-and-coming star Naiktha Bains 6-1 6-4 to set up a clash with No.4 seed Arina Rodionova who accounted for Azra Hadzic today.

“It’s very important [to play in the Australian Open] because it is in Australia and we have so much support when we’re here,” she said.

“I’ve played here a few times and it’s just so enjoyable you get to play the best players in the world. This is what we play for, to play at that level.”

Her aspirations for 2013 include reducing her ranking to 250 in the world and playing in the qualifying events for all four Grand Slams.

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