A FILIPINA tennis princess has risen in Queens, New York.
In a breezy September, teen sensation Alex Eala dazzled and waltzed her way to the top of the US Open junior championships, and put the Philippines on the world tennis map.
The 17-year-old ace netted a piece of “HERSTORY” with a masterful 6-2, 6-4 win over then world No. 3 and now top-ranked Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic in becoming the first Filipina to win any junior singles Grand Slam.
It’s the first singles Grand Slam in her budding career after bagging two doubles titles in the 2020 Australian Open with Indonesian pal Priska Madelyn Nugroho and the 2021 French Open with Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva.
And Ms. Eala did it on an emphatic fashion, displaying a perfect campaign without any single set yielded through six rounds of the elite 64-strong US major draw that featured the best junior players in the world.
It’s a fitting and well-deserved singles breakthrough for Ms. Eala’s unwavering tennis major title hunt after a previous-best Final Four finish in 2020 Roland Garros paired with a couple of misses in the US Open(quarterfinals), Wimbledon (second round) and French Open (first round).
In 2022, Ms. Eala just would not be denied in seizing her first singles crown, at long last, despite participating in the US Open as her lone junior tournament all year long.
A former world junior No. 2 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) herself, Ms. Eala this year opted to earn more stripes in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) — where she also made big leaps to slowly but surely scale the world rankings.
In April, Ms. Eala captured her second pro title in the W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand after her maiden crown in the W15 Manacor in Spain last year.
Ms. Eala also held her own in tougher pro tourneys highlighted by her first Final Four finish in a stacked $80,000 joust in W80 Poitiers in France following the W60 Hamburg in Germany (Round of 16), W80 Rancho Sante Fe (quarterfinals), W60 Templeton in California (Round of 16) and the powerhouse W100 Shrewsbury in Great Britain (qualifying finals).
That series of commendable campaigns thus catapulted Ms. Eala closer to the elite of the elites with now a career-best placing at No. 214 in the WTA to end a stellar year.
Ms. Eala also debuted in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, coming away with three bronze medals.
But she is not yet done, setting her sights to an even brighter 2023 starting with a historic women’s Grand Slam debut in the qualifying event of the Australian Open in Melbourne — where she won her maiden junior Slam. — John Bryan Ulanday