Filipino tennis prodigy and Globe Ambassador Alex Eala is not affected with her relatively unknown status when it comes to the women’s tour. In fact, she is just fine with her “underdog” status in the women’s professional circuit.
“Being the underdog was an advantage,” said Eala. “I didn’t feel any extra pressure. I don’t think any unnecessary pressure would help me perform better.”
The 15-year-old’s fortitude was tested several times in her last four tournaments when she was ranged against older and more experienced opponents as she racked up her first-ever professional singles title when she ruled the 1st leg of the Rafa Nadal Academy International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Tour in Mallorca, Spain last month.
Eala admitted she never expected to win the championship when she joined the first leg of the W15 Manacor in January. She just wanted to get a feel of the women’s pro tour, she explained. Pitted against players older and more experienced than her, the Rafa Nadal Academy scholar admitted she feels the pressure. She said the jitters only disappeared when her matches began.
“Actually I don't know most of them. 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," Eala explained.
Eala, a Globe Ambassador since 2013, followed her success in Manacor with three consecutive quarter finals results in her three next tournaments. The most recent of which was her impressive show in her first-ever W25 event at the $25,000 Trophee de la Ville de Grenoble in Grenoble, France.
The experience and exposure she gained in the Manacor legs helped Eala get off to a rousing start in her campaign in Grenoble. She booted out Laura-Ioana Paar of Romania in the opening round and came back from a set down to shock 7th seed Cristina Bucsa of Spain, 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 in the next round to notch her third consecutive last 8 appearance in as many weeks.
Eala’s splendid run, however, was cut short by Maja Chwalinska in the battle for a spot in the last four. The Polish player defeated Eala in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4.
Her impressive showing in the first two months of the year catapulted Eala to career best 763rd in the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) world rankings and 1,702nd in the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) pecking order.
Eala assures her fans and supporters that they will see more of her as she intensifies her campaign in the professional 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," added Eala, who is also the third-ranked juniors tennis player in the world.
Despite making a leap of 200 spots from her last year's ranking, the Rafael Nadal Academy scholar added she is focused on achieving more this 2021.
“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," she said.