Clare Valley, SA, Australia, 2 March 2017 | David Packman

After recent struggles with injury and illness, Storm Sanders posted a confidence-building first round win at the Clare Valley Tennis International before being edged out in three sets by an in-form Viktoria Kuzmova on Thursday.

“It’s nice to be feeling good and feel like I’m hitting the ball well,” Sanders said after defeating compatriot Abbie Myers. “It makes the hard times worthwhile I guess.”

The West Australian started brightly against the Slovakian third seed – a runner-up in Perth last week – but couldn’t keep up the momentum as Kuzmova struck back to take the match 5-7 6-4 6-1.

Despite the loss, Sanders was resolute. “My main goal is to stay healthy and just be able to play matches consecutively. I know if I can stay out there I can get some wins and get some confidence.”

In a repeat of the Perth title match, Kuzmova will now face Destanee Aiava in a quarterfinal after the Victorian teenager defeated Japanese qualifier Haruka Kaji 6-1 6-3.

Aiava is the last remaining Australian in the ITF $25,000 event after Alison Bai and Sara Tomic failed to advance in their second round encounters – Tomic falling to top seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil and Bai losing to French teenager Tessah Andrianjafitrimo.

Second seed Eri Hozumi of Japan and American No.4 seed Kristie Ahn were also both casualties on Thursday.

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