In the US Open final on Saturday, September 10 (Sunday, September 11, Manila time), in New York, Eala defeats Czech Republic's Lucie Havlickova, 6-2, 6-4, to become the first Filipino to win a junior Grand Slam singles title. (File photo from an anonymous member of the Philippine Sports Commission through Wikipedia.com)
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No. 10 seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines lifted the US Open junior trophy after a 6-2, 6-4 victory over second seed Lucie Havlickova of Czech Republic in the girls’ singles final on Sunday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

The 17-year-old Eala needed 68 minutes to conquer Havlickova, the world No. 3 and reigning French Open girls’ singles reigning champion and make history as the first Filipino to win a junior Grand Slam singles title.

“I think I played very well and was mentally strong and I am happy I was able to keep my composure throughout the match,” said Eala during her post-match press conference.

About her historic triumph, Eala said, “it’s very overwhelming right now. But I think this is a huge step for me personally as well. I am super happy to represent my country and do something worth for the big platform and being able to inspire other younger people.”

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Eala, who improved her junior ranking to No. 167, said she learned a lot about herself during the competition.

“I am very happy with the way I handled each and every point. I had a lot of moments in this tournament where I was down, and I could have lost a set and could have gotten mad easily but I didn’t. I think my behavior throughout the whole week was something I can be proud of,” said the 5-foot-9 Eala, who is based at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca, Spain for the past four years.

To reach the final, she beat No. 8 Australian Taylah Preston, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1); No. 14 Russian Mirra Andreeva, 6-4, 6-0; and No. 9 Canadian Victoria Mboko, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).

Eala now has three junior Grand Slam titles, including the two doubles coming from the 2021 French Open with Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva and the 2020 Australian Open with Indonesian Priska Madelyn Nugroho. She had a career-high ranking of No. 2 in October 2020 following a semifinal appearance at the French Open girls’ singles.

As a pro, Eala is currently No. 297 in the WTA rankings. This year, she won her first ITF W25 title in Chiang Rai, Thailand and was a losing finalist at the ITF W60 event in Madrid to reach a career-high of No. 280 in July.

Eala debuted at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines, winning the bronze medals in women’s singles, women’s team event and mixed doubles with Filipino-American Treat Conrad Huey.

‘Will go a long way’
Only 17 years old and already an owner of one of tennis’s juniors major title, Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said Eala would go a long way.

“Alex will go a long, long way in her tennis career, which, is just budding,” Tolentino said in a statement on Sunday.

In his Facebook post, Tolentino thanked Eala for bringing home another honor to the country.

“We expect Alex to bring more honors to the country, and her accomplishment would definitely inspire young Filipinos to follow in her footsteps,” he said. (PNA)

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