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MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala made a splash right on her Asian Games debut.
Just a day after a picking up a bronze in women’s singles, Eala copped another in mixed doubles with Philippine team veteran Francis Casey Alcantara on Friday, September 29, in Hangzhou, China.
The Filipino pair had hoped to advance to the gold medal match but bowed to Chinese Taipei’s Liang En-shuo and Huang Tsung-hao, 7-5, 6-3, in the semifinal.
With her double-bronze feat, Eala became the first Filipino tennis player in 17 years to capture multiple medals in the same Asian Games since Cecil Mamiit won bronze in the men’s singles and doubles in 2006.
The 18-year-old Eala also became the first female tennis player from the Philippines in 57 years to bag a medal in the continental tournament since Patricia Yngayo and Desideria Ampon won a doubles silver in 1966.
Alcantara, the 31-year-old doubles campaigner from Cagayan de Oro, copped his first Asian Games medal just months after winning his second Southeast Asian Games gold.
Before the doubles semis match, Eala said she “left it all out on the court” after a valiant effort in the singles semifinal on Thursday, where she dragged world No. 23 Zheng Qinwen to a three-hour affair before falling to the Chinese top seed, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3.
“First time playing a WTA top 25 player and so proud of putting up a 3 hour long fight,” said Eala, the 2022 US Open juniors champion, in her social media page. “Disappointed that I won’t be placing higher in the singles event, but happy to say I did everything I could.”
Eala again came out fighting with Alcantara in the doubles semifinal, rallying in the 12th game of the first set, 40-40, and even claiming advantage before yielding to Taipei, 7-5
In the second set, the fifth game proved to be the tipping point as the Philippines raced to a 40-15 start, but Taipei stormed back to claim advantage, and later the set lead, at 3-2.
Wresting momentum, Taipei looked poise to wrap up the match after taking the next two games, 5-2, before the Eala-Alcantara tandem managed to stay alive by shutting out the Taiwanese in the eighth game.
But Liang and Huang quickly restored order, racing to 40-0 in the ninth before sealing the set at 6-3. – Rappler.com