Eala, Semenistaja turn foes to friends in ITF Pune doubles finals march  

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Eala, Semenistaja turn foes to friends in ITF Pune doubles finals march  

FOCUSED. Alex Eala looks to return a shot in ITF action.

Alex Eala's Facebook page

Alex Eala finds a singles rival but a winning doubles partner in Latvian Darja Semenistaja, while Francis Casey Alcantara reaches the title round of another doubles event in India

MANILA, Philippines – Friend and foe all in one day. 

Alex Eala found it better to have Darja Semenistaja on the same side of the court than across the net, falling to the Latvian in the singles quarterfinals but advancing with her to the doubles finals in the ITF W50 Pune on Friday, January 26, at the Deccan Gymkhana in India.

Eala bowed to Semenistaja, 7-6(6), 6-0, to end her singles run in the last eight, but the two rivals made good partners, tripping Saki Imamura and Naho Sato of Japan in straight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-3, in the doubles semifinals. 

The fifth-seeded Eala had her chances in the opening set of singles action against the top-ranked Semenistaja, who is coming off a title win in the ITF W50 Bengalaru a week ago.

Eala came back from a 2-4 deficit in a set where she and Semenistja broke each other three times each. 

In the tiebreak, Eala came within a point of winning at 6-5. But the 21-year-old Semenistaja refused to give up and staged a furious rally that gave her the next 3 points to surge ahead by a set. 

The opener was so tight that both Eala and Semenistaja each scored 55 points the entire set.

However, the long, drawn-out battle seemed to have zapped the energy out of Eala, who only managed to score 9 points the entire second set. 

Semenistaja, on the other hand, remained sharp, breaking Eala three more times to turn the match into a lopsided affair in the second-set shutout. 

It was all over after just an hour and 12 minutes with the Latvian advancing to the semifinals to keep alive her hopes for back-to-back singles titles. 

In the doubles competition, fourth seeds Eala and Semenistaja may have finally found the right formula after dumping Imamura and Sato in straight sets in the women’s doubles semifinals. 

Eala and Semenistaja previously struggled in their first two matches, getting dragged into the third set in the opening round and the quarterfinals before prevailing. 

Semenistaja will also gun for a second straight doubles title after emerging champion the previous week with Camilla Rosatello of Italy. 

Eala and Semenistaja, though, will have to bring their A-game in the finals as they will face top seeds Naiktha Bains of Great Britain and Danni Stollar of Hungary. 

Bains and Stollar are both formerly ranked in the world top 100 in doubles, with Bains even reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2023 and the main draw of the Australian Open five times.

Stollar also made the second round of the US Open twice and Wimbledon once. 

Over in Chennai, Francis Casey Alcantara and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia continued to play beautiful tennis together as they secured their third straight ITF finals as a duo. 

The top-seeded Alcantara and Rungkat faced their toughest battle the entire week but still prevailed over Sandro Kopp and David Pichler of Austria, 6-3, 2-6, 10-7, in the semifinals of the GNC-BR Adityan Memorial ITF Men’s Future. 

On Saturday’s finals, Alcantara and Rungkat will be up against the giant-killing tandem of Bogdan Bobrov of Russia and Adil Kalyanpur of India, who pulled off an upset over second seeds Luca Castelnuovo of Switzerland and Eric Vanshelboim of Ukraine in the other semifinal pairing. –

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