Fourteen-year-old Alex Eala bounced back from a shaky first set and forced Nadia Alam to retire in the third set yesterday in the first round of the $15,000 International Tennis Federation women’s tournament in Tunisia.
Eala, who is playing her first professional tourney, came away with a 1-6, 7-6, 3-2 triumph over Alam, to reach the second round.
She will next face third seed Nina Stadler of Switzerland.
Stadler arranged a showdown with Eala after she beat Diana Martynov, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7).
Eala is fresh from a triumph in the 2020 Australian Open juniors doubles’ tournament with Indonesian partner Priska Nugroho.
A Rafael Nadal Academy scholar, Eala has reached a career-high juniors’ world no. 4 ranking last February following her stint in Australia.
This also gave her one of two slots in the junior reserve list of the main draw of the Tunisia tournament.
Top seed Nadia Kola Kolar of Slovenia also prevailed with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Russian Mayya Gabunova.
She will clash with Czech netter Lucie Petruzelova, who prevailed over Jasmijn Gimbrere of the Netherlands, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Alex comes from a family of athletes, with her mother, Rizza Maniego-Eala, being a women’s 100m backstroke bronze medalist in the 1985 Southeast Asian Games.
Her mom’s sister is also a former national swimmer while her brother is a swimmer-turned-tennis-player for the University of the Philippines tennis varsity squad.
Alex’s older brother, Miko is also a budding tennis player at the Rafael Nadal Academy.