Tennis

New experience: Alex Eala warms up for Wimbledon debut

Beatrice Go
New experience: Alex Eala warms up for Wimbledon debut

MILESTONES. Alex Eala makes her first appearance on the grass court prior to the 2021 Wimbledon tournament.

Globe Telecom

Filipina teen tennis sensation Alex Eala will compete on grass for the first time

Filipina Alex Eala targets another career milestone as she gears up for her Wimbledon juniors debut from July 5 to July 11 in London. 

Fresh off a 2021 French Open girls doubles title romp, Eala challenges herself to see action on grass for the first time. 

“First of all, I’m super excited to go to London. It’s going to be my first time there and also my first time competing on grass. So that’s going to be a new experience,” said the juniors world No. 3 in an interview with Globe Telecom, where she’s a brand ambassador.

Eala has already begun her preparations for tennis’ oldest Grand Slam, joining the Junior International Roehampton tournament, where she cruised over Czech Republic’s Darja Vidmanova, 6-4, 6-4, in the opening round on Wednesday, June 30. 

Despite the victory, the 16-year-old tennis ace is still in the process of learning how to adjust to the grass court. 

“I’ll need to learn how to adjust to it. We’re doing everything we can, but in case I’m not able to, then that’s fine as well. I’ll go there and just get used to the court,” added Eala. 

There’s hardly any rest for Eala after she dominated this year’s French Open girls doubles with Russian partner Oksana Selekhmeteva for her second Slam title two weeks ago. 

She then joined a women’s $25,000 tilt in both the singles and doubles events where she partnered with juniors world No. 1 Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, but was booted out of the tournament after a quarterfinal appearance in the doubles

As she started playing tennis at a very young age, Eala sought Rafael Nadal’s advice on how to avoid burning out in the sport, and the world No. 3 inspired her to stay humble and keep learning.

“I asked him (Nadal) a question the last time I talked to him, and it was how did he keep going and not burn out despite all the success he’s had at such a young age,” shared Eala, who’s a scholar at the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca, Spain.

“And he told me just to be humble and accept everything that the coaches say and keep wanting to improve. So that’s what I’m doing now. And I think I’m going to carry that for the rest of my life.”

Nadal announced that he will be skipping Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, where he will be unable to defend his men’s doubles gold, as advised by his team doctors.

Eala continues to turn heads as Thai former world No. 19 Tamarine Tanasugarn heaped praise on her performance especially after her maiden Grand Slam title with Indonesian Priska Nugroho in the 2020 Australian Open juniors doubles tournament.

She also made history in the 2020 French Open where she became the first Filipino in 35 years since Felix Barrientos in the 1985 Wimbledon tournament to make the last four of a Grand Slam juniors singles event.

At 15 years old, Eala became a pro titlist in the women’s $15,000 tournament in Manacor, Spain at the start of the year. – Rappler.com

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Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.