ALEX Eala fell short anew from capturing her third professional title after a tough semifinal exit in the W60 Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain over the weekend.

After a stellar run in the first three rounds, Eala bumped into a familiar foe in No. 3 seed Jessika Ponchet of France and absorbed a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to miss out on a finals berth.

It was also Ponchet, WTA No. 195, who eliminated the Filipina pride in the second round of the W25 Palma del Rio earlier this month.

Eala, the WTA No. 317, had no problem dispatching her counterparts in the first three rounds highlighted by a convincing 6-1, 6-1 rout of Great Britain’s Eden Silva in the quarterfinals.

The 17-year-old ace previously bested home bet Berta Gutierrez Saiz, 6-1, 6-2, and Chinese Taipei’s Ya-Hsuan Lee (retired), 1-6, 6-4, 4-1.

Eala’s closest bid to her third pro championship was in the finals of W60 Madrid last June but she bowed to Spanish Marina Bassols Ribera, 6-4, 7-5.

A scholar of the Rafael Nadal Academy, Eala bagged her first title in W15 Manacor also in Spain last year and her second diadem in the W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand earlier this year.  John Bryan Ulanday