Young Filipina tennis star Alex Eala opened her campaign in the W60 Bellinzona tournament by dispatching Margot Yerolymos of France in straight sets, 7-6 (6), 6-2, on Tuesday night in Bellinzona, Switzerland.
The 15-year-old Rafa Nadal Academy scholar and Globe ambassador encountered stiff resistance from Yerolymos, who is ranked no. 323 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles rankings, but ultimately powered through to overcome an early deficit.
Yerolymos struck hard early in the first set as she zoomed off to a 3-1 lead but Eala kept her composure and knotted it all up at 3-3. With neither player giving an inch, the first set went to a tie-break after a 6-all score. Eala, however, proved her toughness to take the next two games and the set, 7-6 (6).
Eala, who came into the tournament with a career-high ranking of no. 715 in the WTA singles ladder, got off to a fast start in the second set and never let go of the momentum despite comeback efforts from her French opponent.
It was an all Eala show in the second as she surged in front, 3-0. Yerolymos won the next two games to stay in the match just behind by a point, 3-2. It proved to be her last hurrah as Eala racked up the next three frames to end the match after two hours and two minutes.
Next up for Eala is 12th seed Laura Iona-Paar, a familiar opponent for the Pinay tennis sensation.
The two have already clashed before, in the first round of the W25 Grenoble back in February where the Filipina youngster eliminated the 32-year old Romanian in a thrilling three-set encounter, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.