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Alexandra Eala becomes first Filipina to win a junior Grand Slam singles title at the 2022 US Open

On paper, it should not have been an easy girls’ singles tournament for 17-year-old Filipina Alexandra Eala (she goes by “Alex”).

The No. 10 seed has faced highly ranked opponents since the third round: eighth-seed Taylah Preston from Australia, followed by 14th-seed Mirra Andreeva in the quarterfinals and ninth-seed Victoria Mboko from Canada in the semifinals.

But Eala blazed through all of her competitors in straight sets—downing Mboko with an exclamatory tiebreak—before facing the No. 2 seed, Lucie Havlickova from the Czech Republic, in the final.

Eala defeated her, too, in all of 68 minutes on Saturday afternoon. In doing so, she became the first Filipina to win a junior Grand Slam title by upsetting the higher seed on Court 11, 6-2, 6-4.

“Of course, we’ll meet many more times in the future,” Eala said during her victory speech, thanking her opponent, family and all those who supported her throughout the competition.

After speaking in her native tongue, she saw fans holding her home country’s flag against the court’s walls—and signed their tennis balls.

“I said that it’s not just my win, it’s all of our wins,” Eala clarified in her post-match press conference. “I did this not just for myself, I did it so I could help Philippine tennis.”

Eala was born in Quezon City in 2005. She took up the sport as a youngster and began competing in tournaments before she was even a teenager.

Her talent attracted scouts from the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Spain; she relocated to focus on improving her game.

At just 14 years old, Eala made her junior debut at the 2019 US Open. That year, she advanced to the second round of competition in Queens; returning in 2021, she reached the quarterfinals.

During the time between those two competitions, Eala won two junior Grand Slam doubles titles: the first at the 2020 Australian Open, alongside partner Priska Madelyn Nugroho; the second at the 2021 French Open, paired with Oksana Selekhmeteva.

She topped out at No. 2 in the junior rankings, her biggest solo achievement reaching the girls’ singles semifinals at the 2020 French Open.

At the 2022 US Open, Eala flipped the script. She and partner Erika Andreeva exited the doubles competition in Round 2—but the Filipina kept winning in singles.

For Eala, the achievement was both athletic and a moment of personal growth. “I would say I’m very happy with the way I handled each and every point,” she said in a post-match press conference.

“I had a lot of moments in this tournament where I was down, I could have lost, could have lost a set, and could have gotten mad easily, but I didn’t. I think my behavior throughout the whole week is something I’m very proud of.”

Of course, in winning, Eala also marked a major tennis milestone for her country. She acknowledged the weight of her victory, hoping that it might introduce tennis to an entire generation:

“I’m super happy to represent my country and do something with a big platform, being able to inspire other younger people.”

Eala pointed to Rafael Nadal as her own idol—and “not just because I’m in his academy”: “He fights till the end,” she said.

“His thoughts are so clear. He’s so calm, but at the same time, so fired up. I think I really tried to channel that energy during this whole week.”

The Filipina hopes to instill the same values and virtues in anyone who looks up to her. She also emphasized the role mental strength played, focusing on visualizing each point as opposed to a match or a possible title.

“Today, I was able to execute that very well,” she said.

Though she’s not completely sure what lies ahead, Eala said she will likely focus on the professional tour in the coming months. She had initially turned pro in March 2020, but—given her young age—still had the option to compete in junior tournaments.

As she makes those big decisions, Eala enjoys the support of her family—one of the biggest factors in her athletic success. Throughout her journey, loved ones helped her make decisions large and small.

“The key was to be surrounded by good people and people that I look up to, [to] guide me the right way,” she said. “All of them are pretty involved from everything down to, like, what I wear, my schedule, yeah… I ask them for their opinion on almost everything.”

She added: “I rely on them a lot.”


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