Eala scores breakthrough win
MANILA, Philippines — Up against a seasoned hometown foe, Alex Eala banked on grit, courage and determination so big for her young age to nail a breakthrough championship just in her second year in the pro circuit.
The 15-year-old Eala fought back from a first-set defeat and wore down Yvonne Cavalle-Reimers with her aggressive stand for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory in the finale of the International Tennis Federation’s W15 Manacor in Mallorca, Spain.
The Australian Open Juniors Doubles completed a triumphant run, winning over Italian Anna Paradisi, 6-1, 6-2, in the first round; over Aussie Seone Mendez, 6-4, 6-1, in the second round; French Carole Monnet, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, in the quarters and Hong Kong’s Adithya Karunaratne, 6-3, 6-4, before her moment to remember against 28-year-old final rival Cavalle-Reimers.
Eala struggled with her first serves but stuck in the battle with her solid groundstrokes, befuddling Cavalle-Reimers, a 10-year pro with six ITF titles under her belt.
Unperturbed by her first-set loss, the young rising Filipina netter turned things around right in the second set, closing it out in the seventh game at love.
And in the end, it’s the Palma, Spain native who wilted in the gruelling grind, yielding the match on errors in the eighth game of the third and deciding set.
As a Cavalle-Reimers forehand sailed long, the Filipina lefty clenched her right fist in triumph to cheers from the sizeable crowd.
Eala carved out a stirring win in the Rafael Nadal Academy hard courts where she trained as a scholar.
“Alex Eala, at 15 years old, has won her first ITF title. Great comeback. Congratulations!” said the academy.
Apart from her breakthrough title only on her second year in the pro circuit after lording it over in the juniors scene, the ITF girls’ singles No. 3 Eala took home the $15,000 grand prize in the tourney.
At No. 1651 in the pro circuit, this stellar performance is tipped to catapult Eala up, with more tourneys lined up this year and her continuous training under the Spaniard legend Nadal and his tennis academy.