Alex Eala, the rising tennis sensation from the Philippines, made history in Spain by securing her maiden W100 semifinal berth at the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour in Vitoria-Gasteiz after defeating Lucia Cortez Llorca 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on Friday.
The 18-year-old tennis star displayed her skills and determination on the Pista Amutio outdoor hard court of the Peña Vitoriana Tenis Club as she battled her way through a tough quarterfinal match against Llorca.
Eala, ranked WTA World No. 258 and three-time ITF singles champion, started the quarterfinal clash a bit shaky, falling behind 0-2. However, she quickly found her rhythm and turned the tide with her powerful forehand approach shot, leveling the score at 2-2. With a love service hold and a crucial break, Eala claimed the first set 6-2 in just 35 minutes.
Llorca, who had previously stunned French No. 2 seed Oceane Dodin, fought back in the second set, taking advantage of Eala’s momentary lapse to secure the set 6-4, and force a decider.
The third set was a fierce battle, with both players refusing to back down. Eala showed maturity beyond her years, fighting through six deuces to break Cortez Llorca’s serve and take a 1-0 lead.
She continued to dominate the rallies, extending her lead to 5-1. Despite a late resurgence from the Spanish player, Eala held her nerve and closed out the match 6-2, securing her spot in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Eala will face a formidable challenge against third seed Jessika Ponchet of France, who had defeated her in the semis of the same tournament last year when it was a W60 event. With her current form and newfound confidence, Eala is determined to put up a strong fight and make it to the finals.
Eala’s journey in the W100 Vitoria-Gasteiz had been remarkable. She began her campaign with an impressive victory over Romanian fifth seed Jaqueline Cristian in the opening round, followed by a hard-fought win against Chinese qualifier Tianmi Mi in the second round.
In the doubles draw, Eala and her partner, Marina Bassols Ribera of Spain, showed great chemistry as they shocked Indian second seeds Ankita Raina and Prarthana Thombare in the first round. Although they faced a tough quarterfinal loss to Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia and Estelle Cascino of France, the duo exhibited promising potential for future tournaments.
With each passing match, Alex Eala continued to shine on the international stage, and her performances in Spain solidified her status as a rising star in the world of tennis. As she marked her high school graduation with esteemed players like Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek, it became clear that Eala’s journey was just beginning, and her passion for the sport would undoubtedly take her to greater heights in the future.
Her impressive performance in Vitoria-Gasteiz is a testament to her talent and determination on the court. As she marks her maiden W100 semifinal appearance, the future looks promising for the young Filipino tennis star, and fans eagerly await her next matches on the international stage.