Tennis

Alex Eala crashes out in quarters of Thailand ITF tilt

Ariel Ian Clarito
Alex Eala crashes out in quarters of Thailand ITF tilt

TITLE HOPES. Alex Eala vies to rebound in the next Chiang Rai event.

Troi Santos/Contributed photo

Falling short to an opponent twice her age, Alex Eala ends her bid for a third pro singles title

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala’s dream run in Thailand came to a screeching halt on Friday, April 15, at the hands of an opponent twice her age.

The 16-year-old Eala dropped a pulsating three-setter to 33-year-old Japanese-French Erika Sema, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, in the quarterfinals of the ITF W25 Chiang Rai held at the Chiang Rai Sports Center.

Eala breezed through the first two rounds of the tournament without dropping a set. She found Sema, however, a tougher nut to crack as the veteran pounced on the Filipina teen’s serve and scored 42 points on returns. 

Sema, who won the first of her 10 ITF career titles in 2007, won four straight games in the first set after Eala opened with a 2-0 lead. Sema broke Eala’s serve four times in the opening set alone.

Eala came back strong in the second set and raced to a 4-1 lead. Sema managed to pick up a point in the seventh game but it was not enough to stymie Eala’s bid to extend the match to a deciding set.

What was expected to be a tight third set that would go down to the wire was all tied after four games at 2-all. Eala found her serve broken anew after as Sema regained control of the match to go up, 4-2. Sema closed out the match on the ninth game of the final set.

Eala had hoped for back-to-back titles in Chiang Rai after making short work of hometown bet Luksika Kumkhum to rule the ITF W25 last week.

The singles title came a year after the Filipina teen bagged her first pro crown in the $15,000 ITF event in Manacor, Spain.

Eala will get another crack at a third pro singles title when she joins a $15,000 ITF Chiang Rai event next week. Eala will be seeded fifth in the tournament which begins on Monday, April 18. – Rappler.com