Alice Springs, Australia, 17 September 2017 | David Packman

With the Australian Pro Tour commencing on Monday, former Alice Springs Tennis International runner-up Ben Mitchell was a welcome sight on the training courts as he prepared himself for his first professional tournament after taking an indefinite break from the game at the end of last year.

The 24-year-old Gold Coaster, who reached a career high world No.204 in early 2015, said it felt good to be back.

“It’s early days, my first tournament back, but obviously I’m refreshed mentally,” Mitchell said. “I’ve put in a ten-week training block leading up to this, so I’m going to give the Aussie summer a good crack and then go from there.”

Mitchell will step out in his opening match in Alice Springs against wildcard Chanchai Sookton-eng before a potential test against No.2 seed Bradley Mousley.

Having entered all six Australian Pro Tour events on offer, Mitchell is clear on the process. “I’m taking things step-by-step,” he said. “I don’t want to be talking long term stuff but I’m definitely glad to be back and playing.”

Mitchell added that Alice Springs was “basically his last tournament” before his time away from the game. “Probably last year when I was here, all I could think about was getting back home and stopping. It was pretty tough with things off court and I was not really enjoying the whole lifestyle of it all.” he said.

“But now I feel like I want to be here and I want to do well, so there’s obviously been a big change in mindset.”

Fellow Queenslander and top seed Maverick Banes meets New Zealander Olly Sadler first up before a possibly encountering Victorian Dane Propoggia, who enters the Alice Springs Tennis International with a protected ranking after a return from injury.

Fourth and fifth seeds respectively, Daniel Nolan and Andrew Harris also lurk in the top half of the draw along with unseeded South Australian Darren Polkinghorne who has the potential to cause an upset on his day.

In the bottom half of the draw, Mousley and Mitchell are joined by No.3 seed Harry Bourchier who faces Pro Tour veteran Michael Look in the first round. Another fascinating opening affair sees sixth seed James Frawley face up-and-coming wildcard Matthew Dellavedova.

The remaining international, Brit Rhett Purcell, plays a qualifier in his first match before potentially facing No.8 seed Blake Ellis.

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