By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
“Buong puso ko tong ipinaglaban, hindi lang para sa sarili ko kundi para makatulong din ako sa kinabukasan ng Philippine tennis. Hindi lang to panalo ko, panalo natin to.”
Finally, the Philippines just had a Grand Slam championship title-holder in the sport of lawn tennis.
After years of tears, hard work, and the commitment to train overseas for the future of PHL tennis, Filipina sensation Alex Eala reaped the fruits of her labor and became the first Filipino to win a junior Grand Slam singles title.
Eala dealt the tournament second-seed a stunning upset after sweeping Czech Lucie Havlickova in just two sets – 6-2, 6-4 – during the grand finals of the 2022 US Open girls’ singles category.
It was one of the most consistent outings for Eala after staying on course with her heavy baseline game that became her bread and butter against the Czech’s style of play.
Eala had a favorable matchup as Havlickova also decided to stay in the baseline and go toe-to-toe with the Filipina’s ground stroke power.
However, Eala got the better of the matchup and capitalized on her forehand down-the-line winners that piled up her points early in the first set.
Disaster then struck the Czech juniors player after Eala broke her service possession twice and went on to hold hers for a convincing 6-2 win in the first set.
Eala continued her majestic performance and sent in an early exclamation point after breaking Havlickova’s first service in the second set.
The Czech attempted to storm back midway in the last set after targeting Eala’s backhand side but the Filipina was just on a roll and sealed the deal to win her first-ever singles Grand Slam title.
“Unang una gusto ko lang magpasalamat sa pamilya ko. Kasi kung hindi dahil sa kanila hindi ko talaga to kakayanin. Maraming salamat din sa lahat ng nagdasal at nagsuporta sa akin. Sa aking mga sponsors, Globe, Nike, Babolat, and of course to my team, the Rafael Nafal Tennis Academy,” said Eala during the presentation of the championship trophy.