Alex Eala grinds out win in ITF W25 Yecla 

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala grinds out win in ITF W25 Yecla 

GRITTY. Alex Eala overcomes an early challenge in the tournament.

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Filipina tennis star Alex Eala advances to the second round of the Spain tourney, but not after British foe Katy Dunne gave her everything she could handle and more

MANILA, Philippines – Second seed Alex Eala could not have gotten a tougher foe for her opening-round match, grinding out a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 victory over Katy Dunne of Great Britain in the Open Internacional Feminino at the Yecla Club de Tenis in Fuenteálamo in Spain on Tuesday, May 30 (Wednesday, May 31, Manila time).

Fresh off a quarterfinal finish in the ITF W25 Monastir in Tunisia last week, the Filipina teen tennis star hardly had a moment to relax in her first event for the year in her home base in Spain as the 28-year-old Dunne gave her everything she could handle and more. 

The veteran Dunne has won eight ITF titles in her career and was once ranked 212th in the world. She played in the main draw of Wimbledon in 2018.

Dunne broke Eala right in the first game of the first set. The 18-year-old Eala broke right back to even the count at 1-1 and the score remained tied until the eighth game. 

After her British foe regained the lead in the ninth game by breaking at love to go up, 5-4, Eala retaliated by winning the next three games to bank the first set, 7-5.

The second set saw Dunne go up 2-0. Eala forced another deadlock at 2-2, but that was as far as she would go in the set. Dunne was determined to extend the match to a decider and swept the remaining games to win the second set at 6-2. 

It was a battle of attrition from that juncture.

Eala had to save multiple break points at the start of the third set before finally preserving her serve. She sustained her run by breaking Dunne the next game to go up 2-0. 

Dunne showed signs of life by gaining the next two games to threaten anew at 2-2 and appeared to have seized the momentum in the match. 

Sensing the danger of allowing Dunne back in the match, Eala shifted to a higher gear and not only ensured she would not be broken again, but also put pressure on the fading Brit who had no more energy to hold her last two serves. 

Eala went on to snare the last four games to win the final set at 6-2 and close out the thrilling match. 

The Filipina advanced to the second round where she awaits the winner of the battle between 25-year-old Jessica Failla of the United States and 19-year-old Nahia Berecoechea of France. – 

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