Tough, still pleased: Alex Eala exits ITF Slovakia with heartbreaker

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Tough, still pleased: Alex Eala exits ITF Slovakia with heartbreaker

FIGHTER. Alex Eala returns a shot in singles action of the ITF W75 Trnava in Slovakia.


After a sorry exit, Alex Eala says she’s still ‘very pleased’ with her level of play in back-to-back ITF events in Slovakia

MANILA, Philippines – One crucial break point in the second set. Four match points in the deciding set. 

These were golden opportunities that could have changed the outcome, but Alex Eala failed to capitalize and got sent packing after going down to Tereza Martincova of Czech Republic in a gripping three-setter, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), in the opening round of the ITF W75 2nd Empire Women’s Indoor 2024 on Wednesday, March 6, in Trnava, Slovakia.

It was a sorry exit for Eala, who began her campaign this week with dominant performances in the qualifiers.

The Filipina teen also had a solid run in the event’s W50 competition last week where she reached the singles quarterfinal and the doubles semifinal.

“Tough loss today but leaving Slovakia very pleased with my level this week!” Eala posted on her Facebook page.   

The 18-year-old Eala faced a grizzled 29-year-old veteran from the assembly line of high-caliber tennis players produced by the Czech Republic. 

Martincova was ranked as high as 40th in the world and currently sits at the 150th spot. She has reached the third round of Wimbledon and the second round of both the Australian Open and the French Open. She has also made the main draw of the US Open five times. 

But these sterling credentials hardly daunted Eala, who got off to a strong start in the opening set, zooming to a 4-1 lead and never allowing her seventh-seeded foe to get herself in the match.

Martincova came back with a vengeance in the second set and appeared on the way to a shutout when she opened a 3-0 cushion.

Eala rallied to eventually draw even at 4-4, but soon after, Martincova regained the lead by breaking her young foe in the ninth game. 

The Filipina tennis star had a chance to extend the set when she gained break point in the 10th game. The Czech, however, showed her veteran poise, recovering and closing out on her serve, 6-4, to bring the match to a decider.

The third set was as close as it could come, remaining tied until 5-5. After holding serve in the 11th game to go up 6-5, Eala put herself in numerous positions to end the match. 

Eala held match point on four occasions, but each time Martincova did not flinch and saved the break point. 

Martincova would go on to hold serve, sending the match to a tiebreak. There, Eala had little left in the tank as the Czech raced to a 3-0 advantage, limiting the Filipina to just 3 points the rest of the way. 

The grueling match at the TC Empire Trnava Tennis Complex ended after two hours and 36 minutes with Martincova advancing to the second round where she will face another emerging teen star, 18-year-old Celine Naef of Switzerland.

In the qualifiers, Eala blasted Nastasja Schunk of Germany in the opening round, 6-0, 6-3, then followed it up with a 6-0, 6-2 demolition of Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus, who just last year made the second round of the French Open. –

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