THERE was a hard-fought defeat for Oxenhope youngster Francesca Jones as the tennis year kicked into gear ahead of the Australian Open.

Jones was making her tour-level debut at the Yarra Valley Classic but found 14th seed Nadia Podoroska a real step up, with last year's French Open semi-finalist winning 6-1 6-3.

The 20-year-old Brit has rightly been lauded for her achievement in reaching the Australian Open and will make her grand slam main-draw debut in Melbourne.

She beat Monica Niculescu, Jana Fett and Lu Jia-jing last month in qualifying in Dubai to reach this stage.