Alex Eala wins third ITF title, rules W25 Yecla in Spain
MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala finally bagged her third International Tennis Federation (ITF) professional crown after staving off Valentina Ryser of Switzerland, 6-3, 7-5, in the W25 Yecla Final on Sunday (Manila time) at Yecla Club de Tenis in Spain.
The 18-year-old Filipino completed a masterful campaign as the second seed of the $25,000 tournament, accomplishing her best finish so far this year and claiming her first ITF title since last year’s W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand.
It took 90 minutes for Eala to withstand the 22-year-old Swiss, who threatened to force a decider with her gallant stand in the second set.
Eala dominated the opening set as she unleashed a 3-0 start and never looked back. However, she blew a 2-0 lead in the second set as Ryser gained momentum and took four of the next five games for a 4-3 advantage.
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar won two consecutive games to regain the driver’s seat, 5-4, but the Swiss netter refused to give up and tied the set.
Eala took the 11th game by winning a break point before taking control of the 12th game to become a three-time ITF champion. She first won her first pro title in the 2021 W15 Manacor also in Spain.
Less than 24 hours ago, Eala ousted Lucia Peyre of Argentina in their thrilling semifinal match, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, to make her first finals appearance in the year 2023.
Eala started her Yecla campaign with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, win over Katy Dunne of Great Britain before eliminating Nahia Berecoechea of France, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, in the second round.
She swept Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico, 6-1, 6-3, in the quarterfinals.
At age 18, Eala has been making history for Philippine tennis as she became the first Filipino to win a Grand Slam singles title during last year’s US Open girls.
The Filipino prodigy struggled to start the year as she debuted in the Australian Open but lost in the qualifiers of her first Grand Slam experience as a pro. She also reached the main draw of the Hua Hin Championship only to be eliminated in the first round.
In the ITF circuit tourneys, Eala’s best finish this year before W25 Yecla was a quarterfinal appearance in the W25 Monastir in Tunisia last week.