Tennis

Doubles breakthrough: Underdogs Eala, Semenistaja reign in India

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Doubles breakthrough: Underdogs Eala, Semenistaja reign in India

CHAMPS. Alex Eala (left) and Darja Semenistaja in action in the TF W50 Pune.

ALEX EALA FACEBOOK PAGE

Alex Eala captures her first pro doubles championship with Latvian Darja Semenistaja as fellow Filipino standout Francis Casey Alcantara also rules in India

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara appear to have developed a habit of winning together. 

After bagging a bronze last year in the Asian Games mixed doubles, the Filipino standouts both emerged doubles champions – but this time in separate tournaments – in India on Saturday, January 27.

Eala captured her first pro doubles crown with Latvian Darja Semenistaja, overcoming their underdog tag in the final match of the ITF W50 Pune.

Alcantara and partner Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia, meanwhile, lived up to their billing  to rule the Adityan Memorial ITF Men’s Future over in Chennai.

Eala and Semenistaja  stunned top-seeded veterans Naiktha Bains of Great Britain and Fanny Stollar of Hungary, 7-6 (8), 6-3.

The fourth-seeded Eala and Semenistaja showed they’re far from awed  by their opponents, who aside from being former world top 100 players, also come with Grand Slam pedigree. 

Bains was a quarterfinalist of the 2023 Wimbledon, while Stollar has reached the second round of the US Open twice and Wimbledon once. 

But that hardly fazed the Filipino-Latvian duo, who went toe-to-toe with Bains and Stollar in the opening set, which saw the contending pairs not dropping serve. 

In the tiebreaker, Eala and Semenistaja surged ahead, 4-2, only to find themselves facing set point when Bains and Stollar regained the advantage at 6-5. 

The 18-year-old Eala and the 21-year-old Semenistaja faced another set point at 7-8, but showed strong resolve by racking up 3 straight points to pocket the first set.

The momentum carried over for Eala and Semenistaja in the second set where they broke serve twice and closed it out in the ninth game, 6-3, to bag the championship after an hour and 14 minutes.

The title romp made up for Eala’s exit in the singles event after she lost to Semenistaja in Saturday’s quarterfinals. 

Semenistaja’s singles campaign eventually ended in the semifinals earlier Saturday.

Eala is set to see action next week as a third seed in the ITF W50 Indore, also in India, before she flies to the United Arab Emirates for the WTA Mubadala Abu Dhabi from February 5-12.

Alcantara and Rungkat, meanwhile, blasted Bogdan Bobrov of Russia and Adil Kalyanpur of India, 6-4, 6-2, in the title match.

It was all over in just 59 minutes, with Alcantara and Rungkat holding serve the entire match while breaking Bobrov and Kalyanpur once in the first set and twice in the second set. 

It’s the third straight title conquest as a tandem for Alcantara and Rungkat, who won back-to-back ITF titles together late last year in Malaysia. 

Now at a career-high 176th in the world, Alcantara is expected to climb further up the world rankings and could possibly become the new No. 1 ranked player of the Philippines. – Rappler.com 

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