BALLARAT'S Zoe Hives marked her return to the international junior tennis circuit with a runner-up finish in the Oceania Closed Junior Championships last night.
Hives pushed eventual girls' singles winner and fellow Australian Priscila Hon to three sets, before losing the championship match 4-6 6-4 3-6 in Fiji.
This was Hives' first international tournament in more than five months, after taking a hiatus from competition to focus on high school studies.
The 16-year-old was seeded sixth for the B2-class tournament and advanced strong through the opening two rounds.
Hives drew number one seed Sara Tomic, sister of controversial Australian young gun Bernard Tomic, in a tough quarter-final match, prevailing 3-6 6-4 7-5.
She stormed past fellow Australian Kimberly Birrell straight sets in the semi-final.
Hives has worked to regroup and fine-tune her game under new coach Michael Logarzo at the St Kilda-cased MCC Tennis Academy this year.
The Mt Clear College student had a hectic schedule last season as part of the Australian Junior Fed Cup team and debuting in the Australian Open junior draw at Melbourne Park before taking a break.