Tennis

Career-high ranking bolsters Alex Eala, off to winning W50 Indore start

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Career-high ranking bolsters Alex Eala, off to winning W50 Indore start

HIT. Alex Eala goes for a forehand in singles action.

ALEX EALA FACEBOOK PAGE

Propped up by her new career-high world rankings, Alex Eala hopes to sustain her strong start to the year in the ITF W50 Indore in India

MANILA, Philippines – A new career-high world ranking means a more inspired and composed Alex Eala. 

Now at her best-ever singles rating of 184th in the latest Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings, the Filipina teen tennis star came out with mean intentions in thumping  Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-4, in the opening round of the Indore ITF World Tennis Tour W50 on Wednesday, January 31, at the Indore Tennis Club in India.

Eala – who likewise rose to a doubles world ranking of 302, 63 places higher from her previous standing – also just came off her first career doubles pro title in the ITF Pune.

The 18-year-old Eala displayed both precision and poise against Kulambayeva, overcoming a slow start and her struggles on her serves with her pinpoint and powerful groundstrokes. 

Falling behind 0-2 in the opening set after getting broken in the very first game of the match, Eala recovered to catch up with Kulambayeva at 3-3. The third-seeded Eala did not drop serve the rest of the way and finished the first set in the ninth game, 6-3. 

It was Eala’s turn to go up 2-0 when the second set opened. But the 23-year-old Kulambayeva, 490th in the world, showed she also had some fight in her, rallying to even the score at 3-3. 

Though Eala dropped serve anew once in the second set, she made up for it by breaking her Kazakh foe twice. Eala then ended the set in the 10th game, 6-4. 

Despite winning in straight sets, Eala had to labor through one hour and 34 minutes before prevailing to advance to the second round. Eala again had problems with her serve, which has been the waterloo of her pro career. She committed seven double faults and had only 57% of her first serves go in.

Next up for Eala is a matchup on Thursday, February 1, against 30-year-old qualifier Ekaterina Yashina of Russia.

The veteran Yashina scored a dominant 6-1, 6-2 victory over promising 17-year-old wildcard entry Diva Bhatia of India.

Eala is aiming to improve on her quarterfinal finish last week in the Necc-Deccan $40,000 ITF Pune, also in India. She is hoping to gain some momentum as she gears up for the WTA Mubudala Abu Dhabi Open from February 3-11 in the United Arab Emirates. – Rappler.com

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