Alex Eala begins grass court season on winning note

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala begins grass court season on winning note

SERVE. Philippine tennis standout Alex Eala in action in the international circuit.


After a tough clay season, Alex Eala hopes for a better run in the grass courts

MANILA, Philippines – The grass court season officially began, and Alex Eala targets a better swing after a rough clay court season where she saw early exits in her last three tournaments. 

The Filipina tennis ace aims to build on a winning start after thumping hometown bet Sarah Beth Grey, 6-3, 6-4, on Saturday, June 8, in the qualifying round opener of the WTA Rothesay Open in Nottingham, Great Britain. 

Eala came off two heartbreaking results in the last two weeks, recently missing the chance to become the first Filipina in history to make it to the main draw of a Grand Slam when she dropped a three-setter to Julia Riera of Argentina in the last round of the French Open qualifiers, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, on May 23.

In the WTA 125 Makarska in Croatia on June 5, Eala again blew a one-set advantage and fell in the opening round of the main draw to Maria Timofeeva of Russia, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

Against the 28-year-old Grey whose career-high world ranking is only 277, the world No. 157 Eala had to overcome a sluggish opening set where she found herself trailing 0-2. 

Eala snapped out of the hole by breaking Grey twice to take the lead at 3-2. The British managed to tie at 3-3, but that was the last game she would win as Eala took the next three games to claim the opener. 

The second set followed a script similar to the first set with the Brit once again racing to a 2-0 lead, only for Eala to knot the count in the fourth game. 

With the score still deadlocked at 4-4,  Eala closed out in the 10th game of the match which lasted an hour and 25 minutes. 

Turning 19 years old two weeks ago, Eala just needs one more win to secure one of the six remaining slots in the main draw of the WTA 250 event which offers a total cash prize of $267,082. 

Standing in her way is American-born Japanese Ena Shibahara, who is fresh off a third-round appearance in the women’s doubles of the 2024 French Open. 

The 26-year-old Shibahara also made the women’s doubles finals of the Australian Open in 2023 and won the mixed doubles championship of the French Open in 2022.

Eala is seeking her third main draw appearance in the WTA tour this year after being given wildcard spots in the Abu Dhabi Open last February and the Madrid Open last April.

The Rothesay Open, played at the Nottingham Tennis Centre, has attracted a stellar cast of participants, led by world No. 9 and two-time Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. 

Three former Grand Slam champions are also among those seeking the title this week – local fan favorite and 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin of the United States, and 2021 French Open titlist Barbora Krejčíková of the Czech Republic. 

Other contenders are former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Russian world No. 22 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Great Britain’s top player and defending champion Katie Boulter, and tournament fifth-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, whom Eala defeated in the opening round of the WTA Madrid Open. – 

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