Last Saturday, the 16-year-old became the first Filipino in history to win two major titles in the junior tennis circuit.
Right on Independence Day over the weekend, Alex Eala bagged the Girls Doubles title with Oksana Selekhmeteva at this year’s Roland Garros. This makes the 16-year-old athlete the only Filipino in history to win more than one major title in the junior circuit, after also winning in Melbourne in January.
Two for two
At the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, the Filipina partnered with Indonesian Priska Nugroho, and handily beat Ziva Falkner of Slovenia and Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain in the final 6-1 6-2.
Eala and her Russian partner similarly kept last Saturday’s final a straight sets affair, even dealing their opponents Maria Bondarenko and Amarissa Klara Toth a bagel in the opener. The second set was a much tighter contest, but the eighth-seeded Russian-Hungarian tandem eventually relented 6-0 7-5.
“Good partners, but better friends,” Eala says of Selekhmeteva in an Instagram post. “Didn’t go my way in singles but beyond proud to say we won the title for Roland Garros girls doubles 2021. Happy Independence Day.”
In the singles tournament where she was the number two seed, Eala melted in the third set of her first round encounter against Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain.
The Pinay netter found redemption in the doubles, where, as the top seeded pairing, they beat all five of their opponents not going into a deciding frame. Their closest match was in the quarterfinals, where the duo was taken to two tiebreakers by the Croatian-Hungarian pair of Petra Marcinko and Natalia Szabanin.
In the past few years, the teen has stood out as the next great hope for Philippine tennis. The daughter of former Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist and current Globe Telecom chief finance officer Rizza Maniego, Eala has steadily piled on the wins internationally.
Eala has been going around the Asian and junior circuit with her brother Miko (who currently plays for Pennsylvania State University) since she was a child. But she first caught the attention of tennis fans when, as a 12-year-old, she won Les Petit As 14-under tournament in France. It was good enough of a result for her to be invited to train at the Rafael Tennis Academy.
After that, she started dipping her toes in International Tennis Federation tournaments, starting with the $15K even in Monastir, Tunisia where she won a match. Just before her doubles win at the Australian Open this year, she won her first professional title at the first leg of the $15k tournament Manacor in Spain.
As of today, Eala’s Women’s Tennis Association rankings sits at 630 in singles and 829 in doubles. It wouldn’t be a surprise if we see that number improve as the year progresses. At this point, a girls doubles major sweep is still possible.
Banner Photo from @oksana_selekh on IG.