MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala’s campaign in the 2nd Empire Women’s Indoor 2023 ended on Friday, March 10, after she and Justina Mikulskyte of Lithuania fell in the semifinals of the doubles competition at the hard courts of TC Empire in Trnava, Slovakia.
The 17-year-old Eala and 27-year-old Mikulskyte were booted out in straight sets by number one seeds Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls of Great Britain, 4-6, 1-6.
Unseeded in the $60,000 ITF event, Eala and Mikulskyte scored straight set victories in their first two matches, including a huge 7-5, 6-4 upset over fourth seeds Vivian Heisen and Julia Lohoff in the quarterfinals.
Eala and Mikulskyte had their chances in their semis match as they held an early 3-1 lead in the opening set.
But the seasoned pair of Barnett and Nicholls showed the mettle and composure that made them reach the second round of Wimbledon and emerge champions of the WTA Championnats de Granby in Canada in 2022.
The British tandem fought back to tie the count at 3-3. Falling behind anew after getting broken in the seventh game, Barnett and Nicholls swept the next eight games as Eala and Mikulskyte not only dropped the first set but also stared at an insurmountable 0-5 deficit in the second set.
The Filipina and Lithuanian duo managed to put themselves in the scoreboard at 1-5, but the top seeded Brits held serve in the seventh game to close out the match and earn a spot in the final.
Eala, who has two ITF singles titles to her name, is still looking for her breakthrough title victory in doubles in the pro circuit. She also made the semifinals last June of the ITF W25 Open Generali Ciudad del Palma de Rio in Spain with Spanish partner Marina Bassols Ribera.
Eala’s best ITF doubles finish was in May of 2021. Teaming up with Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva, her partner in winning the 2021 French Open girls doubles, Eala made the finals of the W25 Platja D’ Aro in Spain. Eala and Selekhmeteva lost to Mikulskyte and Oana Simion of Romania in straight sets. – Rappler.com
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