Alex Eala falls in last qualifying round of Wimbledon 

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala falls in last qualifying round of Wimbledon 

GRITTY. Filipina tennis standout Alex Eala returns a shot in pro circuit action.


Despite trying her darnedest to become the first Filipina to play in a Grand Slam main draw, Alex Eala trips in two tight sets against New Zealand’s Lulu Sun

MANILA, Philippines – The dream to have a Filipino female tennis player advance to the main draw of a Grand Slam will have to wait.

Alex Eala tried her darnedest to become the first Filipina in history to play in the main draw of arguably the most hallowed ground in tennis. Unfortunately, she ran into a more determined opponent who was also seeking her first appearance in Wimbledon. 

The 19-year-old Eala blew a huge lead in the opening set and lost in two close sets, 7-6 (3), 7-5, to New Zealand’s Lulu Sun in the last round of the Wimbledon qualifiers on Thursday, June 27.

Eala and Sun were coming off grueling, come-from-behind victories in the previous round. But those grind-out wins did not appear to have zapped the energy out of Eala and Sun, who both came out swinging in their bid for a spot in the main draw. 

The first set proved pivotal to the final outcome of the match.

Eala broke serve in the sixth game, helping her establish a commanding 5-2 advantage. However, the Filipina soon realized that building the lead was easier than protecting it. 

The 23-year-old Sun, a former US NCAA Division 1 champion as a member of the University of Texas in Austin, held serve at love twice and broke Eala in the ninth game to catch up at 5-5. 

By the time the opener went into a tiebreak, the momentum had shifted towards the world No. 123 Kiwi, who immediately grabbed a 3-0 lead which she extended to 6-1, a hole too huge for Eala to get out of.

Eala, ranked No. 162, again had her chances in the second set when she went up 2-0. But just like the opener, the Filipina could not hold on to her lead as her foe staged another furious rally. 

Sun’s composure proved to be the difference, converting points in the clutch by winning the next three games, which all went to deuce. 

Eala had her last gasp when she knotted the score at 5-5, but Sun went on to win the next two games, again at love, to finish off the match in an hour and 40 minutes. 

It was the second straight Grand Slam event where Eala fell a win short of qualifying to the main draw. 

In the French Open last May, the Filipina lost in three sets in the last round of the qualifiers to Julia Riera of Argentina, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4. 

Eala will have one more crack at a Grand Slam main draw appearance this year when the US Open takes place at Flushing Meadows in August. 

Both Eala and Sun headed into the last qualifying match after grueling wins, with the Filipina downing Tamara Zidanšek of Slovenia, 1-6, 7-6 (9), 6-3, in a match that lasted two hours and 33 minutes; and the Kiwi prevailing in two hours and four minutes over Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6). – Rappler.com

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