FILIPINO tennis ace Alex Eala opened her bid at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) W25 Grenoble in France with a gutsy win over Romanian Laura-Ioana Paar (6-3, 4-6 and 6-4) late Tuesday (Manila time).
Playing in her fourth straight professional tournament, 15-year-old Eala held her own against her opponent who was twice her age in booking the victory in the game that lasted for two hours and 18 minutes.
Rafa Nadal Academy scholar and Globe ambassador Eala rode a strong finish to claim the opening set.
She, however, could not complete a sweep as 32-year-old Paar, the 190th-ranked player in the Women’s Tennis Association singles rankings, charged back in the second frame.
In the third set, both players fought hard to seize early momentum.
Ms. Eala dug deep late in the contest and got the leverage she needed from a 4-4 count to win the game.
In the W25 Grenoble tournament, Ms. Eala is looking to build on the good run she had at the ITF W15 Manacor in Spain where she got her maiden pro title and had two quarterfinal finishes.
The third-ranked juniors player in the world, Ms. Eala earned a slot in this professional competition through the junior exempt program of the ITF, which gives top-ranked juniors players the chance to compete in a set number of professional tournaments every year.
Her juniors ranking lets her compete in three $25,000 and two $60,000 pro events this year.
Next for Ms. Eala in Grenoble is seventh-seeded Cristina Bucșa of Spain in the second round. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo