World no. 55 Natalia Szabanin will be Filipina netter Alexandra Eala’s rival in the first round of the 2020 French Open’s Roland Garros Junior Tennis Championships girls’ singles.
As the world no. 4 junior player, Eala hopes to breeze past Szabanin, who claimed a grade 2 junior title in Siauliai, Lithuania in February, and before many of the lockdowns in Europe began.
As the only Asian in the tournament, the second seeded Eala will seek to improve on her world rankings if she is able to get past Szabanin, a 16-year-old from Hungary.
“I’m the only Asian in the draw,” said Eala in her messages to well-wishers on Facebook.
She is in the company of many who are considered as the future of professional tennis.
This includes world junior no. 1 Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, who will face French bet Sharmie Roignot.
Second seed, and world no. 6 Elsa Jacquemot of France is there, and takes on Pia Louvric of Slovenia, and so is fourth seeded Polina Kudermetrova, no. 9 in the world.
Kudermetrova takes on Sofia Costoulas of Belgium.
“I’m excited for Alex to be able to compete at this level. She is the only player in the girls draw from Asia,” said Alex’s father Michael.
The elder Michael said the tourney will be a great experience for Alex because she was a wildcard when she first played back in 2018.
“It’s a nice journey for her because in 2018 she was able to play only in the qualifying rounds as a wildcard,” added Michael.
Since April, Eala and other athlete-scholars of the Rafa Nadal Academy stayed in shape, while in home quarantine in Mallorca.