MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala earned a shot at her third International Tennis Federation (ITF) pro title in her first championship game this year in the W25 Yecla in Spain.
The 18-year-old Eala outlasted Lucia Peyre of Argentina in their thrilling semifinal match, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, to reach the winner-take-all final of the $25,000 tournament on Saturday at Yecla Club de Tenis.
The Filipino tennis star survived the tough challenge of the 17-year-old qualifier Peyre, who pushed her to her limits before prevailing in the two-hour and 25-minute match.
Eala, the No.2 seed of the tournament, plays her first championship game this 2023 against Valentina Ryser of Switzerland on Sunday evening (Manila time).
“Over the moon to be competing in my first final of the year! Bringing the positive energy on the court tomorrow,” she wrote on Facebook.
Over the moon to be competing in my first final of the year! Bringing the positive energy on the court tomorrow💪
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar is raring to claim her third pro title since the 2021 W15 Manacor in Spain and last year’s W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand.
Eala was tested in the semifinal after dominating the first set against Peyre as she squandered a 4-2 lead in the second with the latter winning three straight games to gain the advantage, 4-5.
The Filipino netter tied the second set, 5-5, but the Argentinian qualifier displayed grace under pressure regaining the lead and winning the frame through a crucial breakpoint to force a decider.
Eala never wavered in the deciding set as she unleashed a 3-0 start and stretched it to a 5-2 lead winning break point. However, Peyre refused to go down without a fight as scored two consecutive games to trim to 5-4 before the Filipino prodigy put on the finishing touches in the 10th game to advance to the championship.
The first Filipino to win a Grand Slam singles title, who is currently ranked No. 266 in the Women’s Tennis Association, seeks to achieve another historic feat against the 22-year-old Ryser.
Ryser eliminated fourth seed Eva Guerrero Alvarez in their semis match, 6(6)-7, 7-6(4), 6-4, to set a final duel with Eala.
Eala started her Yecla campaign with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 win over Katy Dunne of Great Britain before eliminating Nahia Berecoechea of France, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, in the second round.
She swept Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico, 6-1, 6-3, in the quarterfinals.
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