Alex Eala boosts ‘strong’ PH SEA Games squad
Alex Eala will get as many opportunities as possible in the Southeast Asian Games, and the teenager is looking forward to representing the country there.
“I am so honored and super excited to play for my beloved Pilipinas,” Eala told the Inquirer on Saturday.
Aside from the women’s singles and doubles, Eala is expected to compete in the team event and will most likely be paired with national team icon Treat Huey for the mixed doubles competition of the biennial meet, which will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in May.
“Although I have represented the country in many tournaments in the past, this is my first time to play in the SEA Games. Tennis is an individual sport and this is a rare opportunity to play as a team,“ the 16-year-old junior star said.
Eala’s partnership with Huey will be central to the national tennis team’s goal of chasing for the seven golds at stake in Hanoi.
Eala, winner of two majors in juniors and one ITF women’s title, has been part of several Philippine teams in international meets like the Fed Cup.
Her debut in the SEA Games has been largely anticipated especially after she made waves over the past few years playing out of Rafael Nadal Academy.
“By all accounts, this is a strong team,” said head coach Chris Cuarto. “Alex Eala is a great addition to the team. everyone will try to chip in efforts to surpass the medal haul in Manila SEA Games.”
Both Eala and Huey didn’t make the squad during the 2019 Games, but the country still managed to run away with one gold, one silver and one bronze.
Eala’s dad, Mike, said the teeaneger’s team has locked in the SEA Games dates but before and after the biennial meet she will be busy competing in the pro circuit with possible stints in the United States, Spain, France, United Kingdom and South Korea.
“As to which tournaments she will play, will depend on her making the cut for the acceptance lists as well as being able to secure a travel visa,” said Mike Eala.
Huey has had a lot of success in mixed doubles, capturing two SEA Games titles in that event—in 2011 (Jakarta) and 2015 (Singapore). Both times, he teamed up with Denise Dy.
His mixed doubles highlight, however, was when he made the semifinals of the 2016 Australian Open with Slovenian Andreja Klepac as his partner.
Eala’s two Grand Slam titles happened to be in girls’ doubles, capturing the 2020 Australian Open crown with Priska Nugroho of Indonesia and the 2021 French Open title with Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia.
Also included in the Philippine team are reigning men’s doubles champions Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon, Ruben Gonzales and Eric Olivarez in men’s and Khim Iglupas, Marian Capadocia and debuting Jenaila Prulla.