Alex Eala eyes another fruitful year starting with Australian Open

Alex Eala eyes another fruitful year starting with Australian Open


Alex Eala tennis Philippines

FILE– Philippines’ Alex Eala poses with her bronze medal during the 2022 Asian Games medal ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

MANILA, Philippines — After another stellar year, Alex Eala hopes to join all Grand Slam tournaments in 2024 but she remains focused on her short-term goal which is seeing action anew in the Australian Open in January.

“I’m trying to look at short-term eh so ngayon, I’m preparing for Australian Open 2024. I’ll be joining the qualifying, that’s on January 8,” said Eala, who spent the Holidays in Manila.

“That is my big focus right now. And hopefully next year, my goal is to join all four Grand Slams,” she added.

Eala, the first Filipino to win a Grand Slam singles title in the US Open girls, suffered an early exit in the Australian Open qualifying rounds earlier this year, losing to Japan’s Misaki Doi, absorbing a 6-4, 6-7 (1-7), 3-6, in the first round to fail to reach the main draw.

The 18-year-old Filipino admitted that she struggled to start the year before finding her groove midway through 2023, winning back-to-back International Tennis Federation (ITF) titles in W25 Yecla last June and earning her fourth pro crown in W25 Roehampton followed by a runner-up finish in W25 Aldershot.

Eala ended her season with another runner-up finish in the W40 Petange.

“I think that the year had a lot of ups and downs, especially in the first half. It was a bit hard for me. I think I had some tough moments during that time, but I’m happy about how I was able to turn it around in the second half,” she said.

“I think I really blossomed and grew during that second half and I was able to bring out some of my best results and best tennis.”

For the Rafael Nadal Academy graduate, the highlight of her 2023 was the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Memorable Asian Games stint

Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara bring the Philippines to the mixed doubles podium.

Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara bring the Philippines to the mixed doubles podium. –JUNE NAVARRO/INQUIRER SPORTS

Eala earned a bronze medal in the women’s singles tournament and got another in the mixed doubles with partner Francis Alcantara.

“I have to say Asian Games talaga ‘yung standout. Iba kasi siya sa ibang tournaments na usually kong sinasalihan na ‘yun nga, it’s a team (event),” said Eala, who ended the year as rank No. 190 in the Women’s Tennis Association. “Of course, I always represent the country in my international tournaments but it’s different to be able to wear it and to be able to be in an environment with all these athletes.”

“It was my first Asian Games so I had new experiences not just on the court but also off the court. I was able to connect with other Filipino athletes and hear their stories and also take notes about what they do, their routines. So I think that whole week, in general, helped a lot in my progression as an athlete,” she added.

Eala’s coach Daniel Gomez was pleased with the progress of his player after “playing at the highest level” to end the year.

Gomez seeks to continue to build on Eala as a “very instinctive player” and her consistency and aggressiveness to achieve their goal next year.

“We have to really focus on staying in the present, in the next point. She got very mature this year. It was the first year she played a full year in the professional (level). I think it helped a lot with her mentality to focus step by step and keep patient and that’s what I think is gonna be a long-term process,” the coach said.

As she continues to grow as a pro tennis player, Eala’s Christmas wish is for Philippine tennis to keep reaching greater heights, hoping for more support for other Filipino netters.

“Hopefully, my Christmas wish for tennis specifically is that more and more people will get into the sport and more and more people will follow the other tennis players,” said Eala, who was part of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) historic crowd during the Game 2 of the All-Filipino finals between Creamline and Choco Mucho.

“I think that the spirit of the sport of tennis will be reignited. I think that more and more people will start to get into the sport. Actually, a lot of people came to me these past few weeks telling me that they started tennis or their kids have started tennis because of me.”

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“Those are comments that I really appreciate and really warm my heart because you’re not thinking about that when you’re on-court, but it’s nice to see that people also appreciate and there’s an impact that you give to the crowd,” she added.


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