Mental toughness is Eala’s chief asset, says former PH Davis Cup skipper
Fresh from winning the “most important title in her career,” Alex Eala earned praise from no less than tennis superstar Rafael Nadal under whose academy the 15-year-old rising star is honing her skills.
Eala recently won the first of three legs of the International Tennis Federation W15 Manacor tournament being played at the Rafael Nadal Academy (RNA) grounds where she pulled off a three-set upset over 28-year-old Yvonne Cavalle (5-7, 6-1, 6-2).
“Congratulations,” said the RNA on its website. “She has won the most important title of her career a few months after turning pro.”
Nadal lauded her on his Instagram page, posting her picture with caption “We are all very happy for you. Keep up the good work and attitude. Vamos.”
Eala on Friday dropped her second round match against Spaniard Alba Carrillo Marin, 6-2, 6-3, in the second leg of the $15,000 tourney.
Still, it was a remarkable breakthrough win for Eala, who is now being coached at the RNA by Gabriel Urpi—the coach who used to train grand slam champs Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez.
Yet for all of Eala’s training and innate talent, Filipino former Davis Cup captain Karl Santamaria feels it is Eala’s mental toughness that’s her biggest weapon.
“Oh, that’s her biggest asset by far, mental toughness, maturity and composure—way beyond her years,” said Santamaria, who helped Eala train during her holiday vacation here in the country.
Though on a break, Eala trained for four to five hours daily and played against fellow age-group stalwarts like Nio Tria and Matthew Garcia as well as Filipino legend Felix Barrientos.
“It was [her] first time home in a year and first time to see her family; all the reasons were there to take it easy, take some time off. But [she] didn’t,” said Santamaria in a Facebook page. “Even when you had barely the energy from the tough days, you are willing to give it one more go when coach asked for it.”
“I made it thank you for all the support,” said Eala in her Facebook post last week.
Now No. 2 in the world in juniors with a pro title under her belt, Eala is just getting started.
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