Eala to turn pro, and will play like Rafa
At 14 years old, Alex Eala is somewhat at the crossroads in her young tennis career as she tries to decide on what style of play to adopt—the kind of play that will help her when she turns pro in the next few months.
She’s into embracing “an aggressive baseline game” and play the way the most successful players of her generation do.
That scrappy, all-out attacking game made famous by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep—who both happen to be Eala’s favorite players.
“I try to play my game every time and use what I have in the best way possible,” Eala told the Inquirer recently at the lanai of the Philippine Columbian Association. “I adjust in a way that my forehand will work well and I try to be very mentally strong.”
That so far helped her reach No. 13—from 113th at start of the year—in the world junior rankings, the highest for a Filipino in recent memory. She has also won a singles title and has a runner-up finish in two Grade A events in Japan and South Africa, respectively.
Eala also made it to the second round of the junior US Open last month.
Eala is taking a week-long respite back in Manila before going into full grind next week in Spain where she is a scholar at the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca.
“Yes I want to go pro, obviously, it’s one of my goals so I think (starting next year) I will definitely be joining more pro tournaments,” added Eala.
She led the Philippines to a fifth place finish in the ITF world juniors championships in the Czech Republic early this year.
“I gain a lot of confidence especially from the GAs (Grade A events),” said the 5-foot-8 Eala. “Ever since I was young, I started when I was 4, the dream has always been to become one of the best out there.”
A ninth grader at RNA, Eala’s daily routine consists of playing, physical fitness sessions and studies.
“The schedule is pretty hectic, there’s not a lot of time for like personal stuff, but you know, I have a lot of friends at the academy which makes it easier to be away from home,” added Eala, whose elder brother Miko also studies at the RNA.
She could have easily snatched a spot in the national team for the coming Southeast Asian Games, but the event will run smack with her preparations for the Mayor’s Cup in Osaka that week.
“You see the tournaments that I play usually I’m the only Filipina,” said Eala. “So I represented the country that way.”
Sure enough, she did. And very well at that.