After valiant effort, Alex Eala trains sights on bigger target
HANGZHOU, China—Alex Eala gave it all she had on the court Thursday before seeing a magnificent ride in the 19th Asian Games come to an end.
The 18-year-old wonder isn’t crying over spilled milk after a grueling 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 loss to world No. 23 and tournament top seed Zheng Qinwen of China and instead, has immediately trained her sights on a dream stint in the Paris Olympics next year.
“The Olympics is definitely one of the goals,” Eala said after the marathon match with Qinwen, who owns a victory over Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the last US Open. “My current ranking isn’t enough so I’ll just try to do my best.”
Ranked 192nd in the world, Eala will be playing in a number of tournaments in Europe from here to improve on that in a bid to make the main draw of the Paris Games which we be held at the hallowed Roland Garros clay courts.
Eala, the reigning US Open junior champion, fought valiantly against the home bet, saving several match points at 2-5 down in the second set and even taking a 3-1 lead in the third before losing steam at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Tennis Court here.
“I knew from the start that it would be very difficult (to win here),” Eala, who booked the fifth bronze medal for the Philippine contingent still in search of its first gold after nine days of action here, said.
“It’s a high level competition and I didn’t expect much,’’ said Eala, who forced the Chinese to only her first dropped set in the tournament.
Only unforced errors, counting double faults, doomed Eala after taking that 3-1 lead.
The women’s Olympic tennis tournament will feature 64 players, with 54 others gaining direct entry by virtue of their rankings in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or the Women’s Tennis Association by June 10, 2024.
France as host is entitled to one assured slot, while the six final qualification places described as International Tennis Federation places will come from continental championships, which include the ongoing Asiad.
Only the champion in Asian Games tennis singles will clinch that spot.