History was made on Sunday morning by a 17-year-old Filipina tennis prodigy.
Alex Eala became the first player from the Philippines to win a junior grand slam singles title.
She did it by carrying over her dominant ways to the championship round when she defeated Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4, in the finals of the US Open girls singles at Court 11 of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York City.
The 10th seeded Eala and the 2nd seeded Havlickova battled toe-to-toe early in the opening set which was tied at 2-2 after the fourth game. Then Eala took control as she broke Havlickova in the fifth game and again in the seventh game before closing out the first set on her serve in the 8th game.
Eala started the second set by again breaking Havlickova’s serve. But hopes for another easy win were derailed by Eala’s two double faults as the Czech got back in the match and retook the lead in the third game. Eala, however, managed to keep in step and keep the score tied at 4-4.
The Filipina then made her move in the 9th game as she broke Havlickova’s serve that practically knocked the fight out of the Czech who just a few months back won both the girls singles and doubles of the French Open juniors. Eala made sure there was not going to be a tiebreak as she closed out on her serve in the 10th game.
Eala was consistency personified in the finals as she managed to keep her unforced errors to only 21 unforced errors compared to Havlickova’s 32. She also had better service percentages compared to her Czech rival.
Eala did not drop a set the entire week on her way to the US Open title.
The newly crowned US Open girls singles champion offered her victory to the country. She said, “Sana makatulong din ako sa kinabukasan ng Philippine tennis. Hindi lang to panalo ko. Panalo natin tong lahat.”
Before Eala’s historic US Open title win, the farthest that a player from the Philippines had gone in the junior grand slam singles was the semifinals which happened in the 1984 Wimbledon boys singles with Felix Barrientos and the 2020 French Open girls singles when Eala herself made the final four.