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Tennis ace Alex Eala basks in chance to compete against older opponents, eyes more tournament­s

- Michael Angelo S. Murillo

HAVING competed on the women’s tour this year, Filipino tennis ace Alex Eala said she is basking in the opportunit­y and looking forward to more tournament­s to play in moving forward.

To date, 15-year-old Eala, the number three-ranked juniors player in the Internatio­nal Tennis Federation (ITF), has participat­ed in four singles tournament­s on the women’s tour in 2021 with impressive results.

She won her first-ever profession­al singles title when she ruled the first leg of the Rafa Nadal Academy ITF World Tennis Tour in Mallorca, Spain, last month.

Then she followed it up with quarterfin­al finishes in her next tournament­s, the most recent of which in her first-ever W25 event at the $25,000 Trophee de la Ville de Grenoble in Grenoble, France.

Despite being a juniors player, Ms. Eala is given an opportunit­y to play in a number of profession­al tournament­s through the junior exempt program of the ITF.

Her juniors ranking lets her compete in three $25,000 and two $60,000 pro events this year.

Ms. Eala’s impressive showing has seen her rise to a career-high 763 in the Women’s Tennis Associatio­n world singles rankings.

But while she is doing well on the tour, Rafa Nadal Academy scholar Eala admits she is still adjusting every time she takes on older and more experience­d players.

She was quick to say, however, that all of these are something she is harnessing to be the best that she can be.

“Actually, I don’t know most of them [older players]. I’m quite new to the women’s tour. But I know they are more experience­d than I am. I can be intimidate­d sometimes, but when you’re on court, it really shouldn’t matter,” said Ms. Eala, who is also a long-time Globe ambassador, in her recent guesting on the Power & Play with Noli Eala program.

And the journey continues for her on the tour, where she hopes to continue sharpening her skills and earn points to sustain her ascent in the circuit.

“The more I play in the women’s, the more I get to be noticed and learn more about the women’s tour. Now, I’m just trying to transition my game slowly to the one that will support me in the future,” said Ms. Eala.

Adding, “I think I’m going at a good speed. I’m really proud of myself for breaking the top 1,000 and I have bigger goals. I have goals that I hope to reach by the end of this year.”

Ms. Eala’s good start to the year is a continuati­on of her steady progress in the game, which includes winning the Australian Open girls’ doubles title along with partner Priska Nugroho of Indonesia and a semifinal finish in the French Open juniors singles tournament in 2020. —

 ?? GLOBE ?? FILIPINO TENNIS ace Alex Eala

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