NEW YORK/MANILA – Filipino teen tennis star Alexandra Alex Eala made history in New York when she won the US Open junior championship trophy by defeating second seed Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic 6-2 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Sunday, August 11.
Eala dedicated her win to the Filipino people in a message in halting Filipino beamed at her Filipino fans who watched the finals.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other officials like Philippine Consul General in New York Elmer Cato and sports leaders immediately congratulated Eala for her achievement.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Bambol Tolentino also congratulated the young Eala, adding he believes this is just the beginning for the young Eala.
“Alex will go a long, long way in her tennis career, which, is just budding,” said Tolentino, who is now the Tagaytay City mayor. “We expect Alex to bring more honors to the country, and her accomplishment would definitely inspire young Filipinos to follow in her footsteps.”
Senator Alan Cayetano also congratulated Eala for her win, saying, “Ipinagmamalaki ka ng ating bansa at ipinagdarasal namin ang iyong patuloy na tagumpay. Inspirasyon ka sa ating mga kabataan dahil sa iyong galing, sipag, at dedikasyon (Our country is proud of you, and we pray for your continuous success. You are an inspiration to the youth because of your talent, diligence, and dedication).”
“We are truly blessed with incredibly talented athletes!” he added
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Noli Eala also lauded Alex, his niece for winning the girls’ title of the US Open.
Eala was among those who stayed awake past midnight on Sunday (Philippine Time) to watch and eventually witness Alex’s historic moment in Flushing Meadows, New York as she became the first Filipino ever to rule a singles grand slam tournament.
The 17-year-old Eala needed 68 minutes to conquer Havlickova, the world No. 3 and reigning French Open girls’ singles reigning champion.
“The historic win of Alex is a testament to the Filipino spirit and our strength of character,” said the elder Eala in a statement.
The 17-year-old tennis wunderkind is a product of Rafael Nadal’s academy, and she has to spend basically her teenage days in Mallorca, Spain for training, sacrificing her time with her family.
“I think I played very well and was mentally strong and I am happy I was able to keep my composure throughout the match,” said Eala during her post-match press conference.
On her historic triumph, Eala said, “it’s very overwhelming right now. But I think this is a huge step for me personally as well. I am super happy to represent my country and do something worth for the big platform and being able to inspire other younger people.”
Eala, who improved her junior ranking to No. 10 from No. 167, said she learned a lot about herself during the competition.
“I am very happy with the way I handled each and every point. I had a lot of moments in this tournament where I was down, and I could have lost a set and could have gotten mad easily but I didn’t. I think my behavior throughout the whole week was something I can be proud of,” said the 5-foot-9 Eala, who is based at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca, Spain for the past four years.
To reach the final, she defeated No. 8 Australian Taylah Preston, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1); No. 14 Russian Mirra Andreeva, 6-4, 6-0; and No. 9 Canadian Victoria Mboko, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
Eala now has three junior Grand Slam titles, including the two doubles coming from the 2021 French Open with Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva and the 2020 Australian Open with Indonesian Priska Madelyn Nugroho. She had a career-high ranking of No. 2 in October 2020 following a semifinal appearance at the French Open girls’ singles.
As a pro, Eala is currently No. 297 in the WTA rankings. This year, she won her first ITF W25 title in Chiang Rai, Thailand and was a losing finalist at the ITF W60 event in Madrid to reach a career-high of No. 280 in July.
Eala debuted at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines, winning the bronze medals in women’s singles, women’s team event and mixed doubles with Filipino-American Treat Conrad Huey.
Only 17 years old and already an owner of one of tennis’s juniors major title, Eala would go a long way, said POC President Tolentino.
“Alex will go a long, long way in her tennis career, which, is just budding,” Tolentino said in a statement.
In his Facebook post, Tolentino thanked Eala for bringing home another honor to the country.
“We expect Alex to bring more honors to the country, and her accomplishment would definitely inspire young Filipinos to follow in her footsteps,” he said.