US Open girls champ Alex Eala focuses on being an inspiration
Alexandra the “Great” will take her own sweet time in expanding her dominion.
The US Open princess said she is not in a rush to follow up on her milestone Grand Slam success just yet as she and her team will plot her next moves after her recent triumph at Flushing Meadows in New York.
She’s not about to reveal what those next plans are, either.
“I like to take it step-by-step and just look at the next step instead of the bigger picture,” the 17-year-old ace told reporters in a virtual Q and A all the way from the Big Apple. “I feel like everyone wants me to share these huge goals that I have for myself but I like to keep it personal.” Eala whipped Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4, to become the first Filipino to capture a Grand Slam singles title.
“Right now, the only [things] planned and [the only] sure tournaments I have are, like, three. And I think it will build up—as I’ve said before, my schedule is on a week-to-week basis. I have to see which ones fit my schedule wherever I am in the world, so yeah I have to discuss with my team first,” Eala said.
She spent much of the chat, arranged by Globe Telecom, looking at how far she’s come in the sport. And as she went on dissecting her game, Eala also zeroed in on what she hopes to refine as her young career plods along.
“I think I’ve improved in so much more aspects,” Eala said. “Technically, physically, tactically. Part of my plan is to just grow them all together. I think a complete player means to be good in all of them. Right now, I’m trying to continue to work on my fitness. I think if my fitness gets better, my technique will get better in the longer rallies and of course certain shots in my game that differ from week to week.”
“I think it’s not a secret that I’ve been working a lot on my serve. And in my opinion, it’s improved a lot in the past year. I’ve been working a lot in the past year. Countless repetition. But it’s still not where I want it to be. There’s a huge margin for improvement, but I’m already super proud of how far it’s come,” she added.
There’s also the invisible milestone of sorts—of staying healthy in this season thus far—which allowed Eala to compete in the US Open at the best of her abilities.
“I haven’t been injured since last year. That’s one of the things I’m proud of and one of the achievements I had this year—that even though I increased my load of work, I never got injured.”
Taking into account the magnitude of her recent feat, Eala is shaping up a logical selection for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia next year. She has expressed willingness to don the national colors again, but the biennial meet remains up in the air.
SEA Games, Olympics
“There hasn’t been talk yet of the SEA Games. Not exactly sure. But I would definitely be open to joining the SEA games again. I think I have a good chance of getting better results. But of course, my schedule is flexible, it goes on like a week-to-week basis. We’ll have to see,” said Eala, a winner of three bronze medals in the last edition of the regional meet.
Eala, however, talked about becoming an Olympic champion with much more certainty.
“[I]f my ranking allows it, it’s definitely going to be one of my goals. I talk a lot about representing the country and I think [the Olympic Games is] one of the biggest stages to do that. Definitely one of my goals. Definitely,” she said.
As vague as her plans are right now, the one thing that is certain is the Quezon City native aspires to be an inspiration. “I just want to be someone people could look up to, not just to girls. To anyone, really. You know, like I grew up looking up to Manny Pacquiao, watching his matches,” she said. “I kind of want to be like that, someone who inspires others with their hard work and how they are as a person and not just an athlete.”