In a heartwarming ceremony held at the prestigious Rafa Nadal Academy (RNA) in Mallorca, Spain, Alex Eala, the 18-year-old tennis sensation from the Philippines, bid farewell to her alma mater and embarked on the next chapter of her promising career.
Having spent five years as a full scholar at the RNA, Eala’s graduation was a culmination of her relentless dedication and unwavering passion for the sport.
The Filipino prodigy, who etched her name in history as the first Filipino to win a Grand Slam singles title at the US Open girls’ tournament last year, shared the unforgettable milestone with her followers on Instagram, giving them a glimpse into the emotional ceremony.
Tennis legend Rafael Nadal, the owner of the RNA, addressed the graduating class and delivered an inspiring speech, commending their hard work and expressing his pride. “I think you have achieved one of the first goals, which is to graduate. I personally am very proud of you,” said Nadal. He emphasized the importance of perseverance and encouraged the young athletes to give themselves opportunities, even in the face of setbacks.
Known for leading by example rather than offering a plethora of advice, Nadal imparted a valuable piece of wisdom to his graduates. “Give yourself opportunities,” he advised. “Don’t be disheartened if things don’t work out the first time or after multiple attempts. Keep giving yourself chances.”
Nadal also acknowledged the unwavering support from the people who have stood by the graduates throughout their journey. He encouraged them to face the future with the tools they have acquired at the academy.
Nadal also took the opportunity to congratulate Novak Djokovic on his historic 23rd Grand Slam title and extended his admiration to the women’s champion, Iga Swiatek, who graced the ceremony as a special guest. Praising Swiatek as a “good role model” for the academy, Nadal showcased the camaraderie that exists among the tennis greats and the mutual respect they share.
Eala’s journey at the RNA has been nothing short of exceptional. Under Nadal’s guidance, she soared to new heights, securing titles in both the junior and women’s professional circuits.
Her success included junior doubles victories in the 2020 Australian Open and the 2021 French Open. Furthermore, Eala’s triumph at the US Open girls’ championships last year solidified her reputation as a rising star in the tennis world.
Transitioning from the junior to the women’s pro circuit, Eala continued to make waves, claiming three titles in International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments over the past three weeks. Her impressive performance on the court has propelled her to a career-high ranking of No. 214 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), demonstrating her rapid progress and immense potential.
The graduation ceremony was graced by another tennis luminary, Iga Swiatek, who has enjoyed a phenomenal rise in the sport, clinching consecutive French Open titles. Swiatek, seated alongside Eala, expressed her gratitude to Rafael Nadal and the RNA, highlighting the cherished experiences she had during her training stints with Eala.
As Alex Eala embarks on her professional journey with her newly acquired skills and knowledge, the tennis world eagerly awaits her next move. With her remarkable talent, dedication, and invaluable guidance received at the Rafa Nadal Academy, she is poised to make an even greater impact on the global stage. The future holds immense promise for this young tennis prodigy as she aims to etch her name among the sport’s elite, leaving an indelible mark on Filipino sports history.