DESPITE a short turnaround, Filipino tennis ace Alex Eala sets her quest for another professional title to a good start, winning her opening-round assignment at the second leg of the Rafael Nadal Academy ITF World Tennis Tournament in Mallorca, Spain, late Wednesday (Manila time).
Ms. Eala, 15, upset tournament number 2 seed Mirjam Björklund of Sweden (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) to sustain her good form.
The Rafa Nadal Academy scholar, who is also a Globe ambassador, is coming off her conquest of her first ITF professional singles title at the weekend in the same tournament, becoming the first player from the Philippines to do so since 2015.
Ms. Eala had beaten veteran Spanish player Yvonne Cavalle-Reimers (5-7, 6-1, 6-2) in the finals of the first leg.
Against Swede Björklund, Ms. Eala showed no fear against her older and more experienced opponent.
She bucked a hiccup in the second set and proved steady in the final set to book a date against local bet Alba Carrillo in the next round, set for later on Thursday.
Ms. Eala is looking to have another banner year in 2021, building on the achievements she had last year, which included winning the Australian Open juniors doubles title and making it to the semifinals of the French Open juniors tournament.
The Filipina is the No. 3 junior player in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is currently ranked 1,190th in the world based on the latest singles ranking released by the Women’s Tennis Association. She is ranked 1,670th in the ITF. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo