Playford, South Australia, 2 January 2019 | Asher Packman

Qualifier Belinda Woolcock has continued her impressive return at the City of Playford Tennis International, ousting Italian seventh seed Martina Trevisan 6-4 6-4 in their opening round encounter on Tuesday.

Playing in her first professional tournament since rupturing the ACL in her left knee in February last year, the Victorian said she is happy to have stayed positive throughout the ordeal.

“I’m really happy with the way I’m playing at the moment,” she added. “And having had quite a few matches already this week has been a massive gain for me.”

“My preparation has been really good. I’ve put a lot of hours in the gym and I’ve done a lot of testing as well to see how I’m performing. The knee I injured is actually stronger than the other one now.”

After having the sport she loves taken away from her for an extended period, Woolcock, 23, said she has learnt to appreciate it a lot more.

“I guess it really makes you work extra hard and be a little bit hungrier,” she said. “My mentality now is just to get out there and enjoy it. I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose and that really helps. It’s just nice to be out there competing again and not just training every day.

“It was a horrible experience but it could end up being a blessing in disguise, that’s for sure.”

Woolcock was the shining light on an otherwise tough day for the Aussies in Playford, with wildcard Alexandra Bozovic falling to Lulu Sun of Switzerland in three sets and qualifier Ivana Popovic providing little resistance for No.3 seed Anna Kalinskaya, who progressed 6-0 6-4 in just over an hour.

Seone Mendez impressed but was eventually curtailed by second-seeded Brit Gabriella Taylor 6-1 0-6 6-3.

Meanwhile, Woolcock moves on to play fellow Australian Kaylah Mcphee, the wildcard a three-set winner over Belgian Greet Minnen on Tuesday.

Isabelle Wallace, another Australian wildcard, was also successful on Tuesday, upsetting Italian Jasmine Paolini, the No.8 seed, 6-4 7-6(8). She will face Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet for a place in the quarterfinals.

The tournament’s top seed, Moldova’s Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, eased past American qualifier Jennifer Elie 6-3 6-3 to reach the second round.

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