FILIPINO tennis ace Alex Eala is now a two-time Grand Slam junior doubles champion after claiming the 2021 French Open girls’ title on Saturday evening (Manila time).
Ms. Eala, a Rafa Nadal Academy scholar, and Russian partner Oksana Selekhmeteva defeated the pair of Amarissa Toth of Russia and Maria Bondarenko of Hungary (6-0, 7-5) in the finals at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, France.
The title was the second in Grand Slam events for 16-year-old Eala, who won the 2020 Australian Open title with Indonesian partner Priska Nugroho.
The Filipino-Russian tandem dominated its opponent in the opening set of the finals, winning, 6-0, in just 20 minutes.
In the second set, it encountered a stiffer challenge, forced to a 5-5 tie after 10 games. But much like what the duo did all tournament long, it held steady in the clutch, taking the next two games to close out the proceedings and secure the title.
The win was a culmination of the impressive run of Mses. Eala and Selekhmeteva, who did not drop a single set in their five matches in the competition.
In her speech after, Ms. Eala, a long-time Globe ambassador, thanked all the Filipino supporters who rallied behind them, taking note as well that their feat came on Philippine Independence Day.
“To all the Filipinos who watched us and gave their support, thank you so much!” said Ms. Eala in Filipino. “It is actually Independence Day today, so I hope I made my contribution to the country.”
She went on to thank her partner Selekhmeteva, who she underscored “fought really, really hard,” as well as family and friends and the Rafa Nadal Academy.
It has been a solid year for Ms. Eala in 2021 to date, which has seen her make waves in the pro circuit and rise in the world rankings. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo