FILIPINA pride Alex Eala has graduated from the Rafael Nadal Academy (RNA) in Mallorca, Spain yesterday after a stellar run highlighted by a couple of titles both in the juniors and women’s professional circuit.

Ms. Eala spent five years as a full scholar in the prestigious academy of no less than the Spanish legend (Rafael) Nadal, who expressed his pride and excitement for the future of world tennis.

“To be where you are today is because of your effort. You have believed in yourselves. Now, you have achieved one of the first goals which is to graduate. I’m very proud of you,” said Mr. Nadal in his speech for RNA’s Class of 2023.

Ms. Eala, who turned 18 last month, started to create ripples in 2018 with RNA and since then has become one of the world’s rising tennis stars.

Under RNA with Mr. Nadal’s overall guidance, the lefty wunderkind won the junior doubles titles in the 2020 Australian Open and 2021 French Open.

Last year, the Filipina etched history by ruling the US Open girls’ championships to become the first Filipina junior’ singles Grand Slam champion.

In multiple stretches, Ms. Eala also became the International Tennis Federation (ITF) No. 2 junior player before transitioning to the women’s pro circuit, where she has already won three titles in a young career.

Ms. Eala is now the No. 228 player in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

World No. 1 and back-to-back French Open champion Iga Swiatek of Poland, who was seated with Ms. Eala during the ceremony, also graced the RNA graduation as guest of honor and speaker.

“Thank you to Rafael and the RNA. I loved every minute of this experience,” said the 22-year-old star, who also had training stints with Ms. Eala in different tournaments. — JB Ulanday