ALEX Eala slightly slid down in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings to start the year after a miss in her first event.
From a career-high of No. 214 to end 2022, the Filipina sensation tripped to No. 215 as per the newest WTA bulletin to fire off 2023.
Ms. Eala, 17, bowed to pal Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia in a tough 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 defeat in the finals of the W60 Canberra qualifiers in Australia to miss out on a main draw berth.
The left-handed prodigy actually impressed in the first phase of the qualifying draw with a 6-3, 7-6 win over Mexico’s Marcela Zacarias before falling just short against Ms. Selekhmeteva.
Ms. Eala and the 19-year-old Ms. Selekhmeteva ruled the 2021 French Open girls’ doubles tournament.
Still, Ms. Eala is poised to scale the elite WTA rankings this year, especially the Top 200, with more events in line for her.
A scholar of the Rafael Nadal Academy in Spain, Ms. Eala since last year has opted to focus more in the women’s pro circuit instead of further stamping her class in the junior play.
She participated in only one junior tilt last year and capped it in style, winning the US Open junior championships in New York to become the first Filipina junior singles Grand Slam champion.
It’s also the first singles Slam in her budding career, adding to her trophy case that includes two doubles Slams in the 2020 Australian Open and 2021 French Open on top of two professional crowns in Spain (W15 Manacor) and Thailand (W25 Chiang Rai).
In the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings, Ms. Eala is currently No. 37 after having a previous career-best placing as the world No. 2 player. — John Bryan Ulanday