Toowoomba QLD, Australia, 8 October 2018 | Asher Packman

Maverick Banes has cruised into the main draw at the 2018 Hutchinson Builders Toowoomba International after another routine victory on Monday.

Playing in his home state, the Queenslander has lost just eight games in his three qualifying wins, and with a current world ranking of No.250, he has now been installed as the tournament’s top seed.

“I made a last-minute decision to try and play quallies here and I was fortunate enough to get a wildcard,” he said. “The idea was to try and get a bit of confidence back and win a few matches.

“There’s a lot of guys here who can play a good level as well so it’s still tough,” he added. “But that’s kind of what I was looking for, some good quality tennis.

“It’s been good to get some matches in already. I feel like I’m playing quite well, getting used to the conditions.”

While Banes has struggled with form a little recently, 2018 has seen him rise to a career-high ranking (No.216) on the back of his first ATP Challenger title – the Gwangju Open in South Korea – in August.

Banes, 26, said, “It’s been an up-and-down year, I’ve had some really good weeks and then some tough matches, but all in all, it’s been going fairly well.”

He opens his Toowoomba campaign against promising teenager Lucas Vuradin, already an Australian Pro Tour quarterfinalist (in Cairns) this season.

“I played him once a few years ago,” Banes said. “He hits a good ball and I’m going to have to switch on from the word ‘go’.”

The Queenslander hopes to improve on his semifinal showing in Toowoomba last year, where he lost a deciding set tiebreaker to eventual champion Andrew Harris.

“I was up in that third set actually, so it was a bit of a tough one, I’m hoping to get some better memories this time around,” he said.

Looking ahead, Banes may need to get past Cairns winner Jacob Grills, the No.5 seed, and he also has Queensland veteran Michael Look, a Brisbane semifinalist, lurking in his quarter.

In other first round matches, second-seeded South Australian Luke Saville will take on American Connor Farren with a potential quarterfinal against Colin Sinclair (No.8) brewing. The North Mariana Islander has been in solid form recently, reaching the final last week in Brisbane.

Third seed Blake Ellis faces Brisbane champion, Brit Evan Hoyt, in another eye-catching opener, while his countryman, Brydan Klein (No.6), must overcome Brisbane semifinalist, American Dusty Boyer, who received a special exemption into the Toowoomba main draw after his outstanding week.

Main draw play begins on Tuesday.

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