Alex Eala honored to be an inspiration as she makes history for Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — More than the Grand Slam immortality, Alex Eala is honored to be an inspiration for her fellow Filipinos back home with her historic achievement in the US Open girls’ singles tournament.
“This is a huge step for me. I’m super happy to represent my country and do something with a big platform, being able to inspire other younger people,” said Eala during the post-match press conference after her title-clinching 6-2, 6-4 victory over World No.3 Lucie Havlickova of Czech Republic on Sunday (Manila time) in New York.
As the first Filipino to win a US Open juniors singles title, the Rafael Nadal Academy scholar wants to continue inspiring the Philippine tennis community, like the trailblazing women in the seniors division, Iga Swiatek, the first Polish woman to rule the US Open, and runner-up Ons Jabeur from Tunisia.
“Of course, all the tennis players have their own stories and they’ve gone through hardships and to see people like Iga and Ons making their own path and inspiring so many young people is definitely something that I want to do as well,” said 17-year-old, who delivered a Filipino acceptance speech during the trophy presentation.
FAMILY TO RELY ON
The No.297 player in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), who earned her best ranking No. 280 last August 1, believes the key to her achievements at a young age is being surrounded by good people with her family–father Michael and former national team swimmer Rizza, and brother Miko, who is also a tennis player– always a steady presence in her career.
“I would say the biggest obstacle is probably being away with my family and many other things that a lot of tennis players also go through. But the key was to be surrounded by good people and people that I look up to, (to) guide me the right way,” said the three-time Grand Slam champion, who won a pair of titles in doubles in the 2020 Australian Open doubles with Priska Nugroho and 2021 French Open doubles with Oksana Selekhmeteva.
“All of them are pretty involved from everything down to, like, what I wear, my schedule, yeah… I ask them for their opinion on almost everything. I would say they’re pretty involved, the big things and small things. I rely on them a lot,” she added.
In the tournament where she didn’t drop a single set in six matches, Eala said she was proud of how she handled the pressure every time she was pushed to the brink.
“I would say I’m very happy with the way I handled each and every point. I had a lot of moments in this tournament where I was down, I could have lost, could have lost a set, and could have gotten mad easily, but I didn’t. I think my behavior throughout the whole week is something I’m very proud of,” she said.
The mental strength is one of the things she wants to continue to learn and develop as she returns to pro competition, eyeing her third championship after bagging a pair of trophies from the W15 Manacor in Spain last year and W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand last April.
For now, Eala will take a breather and cherish her success with her supportive family.