FILIPINA tennis sensation Alex M. Eala plunges into her first event this year with a home stint in the W25 Manacor at the Rafael Nadal Academy (RNA) in Spain starting this weekend.

A scholar of RNA, Ms. Eala will bank on the familiarity of her own backyard in a twin bid to start 2022 with flying colors and to capture her second professional title.

Ms. Eala last year copped her breakthrough championship in the women’s pro circuit, coincidentally, at the same venue after a stellar run in the W15 Manacor.

But it will not be a walk in the park this time with the 16-year-old ace going through the qualifying round first before entering the main draw of the $25,000 tilt.

Ranked No. 527 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Ms. Eala will be up against a slew of Top-400 players in Manacor led by WTA No. 134 Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia, who is the event’s top seed.

In the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings, Ms. Eala is at No. 8 but she is yet to play there after skipping this year’s Australian Open to focus more on pro events.

Ms. Eala won the 2020 Australian Open with Indonesian pal Priska Madelyn Nugroho before ruling the 2021 French Open with Russian partner Oksana Selekhmeteva to sustain her steady rise in the world tennis scene. — John Bryan Ulanday