Alex Eala’s magical run in the Internationaux Feminins De La Vienne came to a heartbreaking halt which prevented her from making her first-ever finals appearance in an ITF W80 level event.
The 17-year-old Eala came back from a set down but could not quite overcome a familiar foe, 28-year-old Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium, leading to a 1-6, 6-3, 3-6 loss for the Filipina in the semifinals on Saturday of the W80 Poitiers held at the Comite Departemental De Tennis De La Vienne in France.
Just a week ago, the world no. 248th ranked Eala faced Bonaventure, ranked 105th in the world, in the second round of the W60 Hamburg in Germany. Bonaventure scored a breezy 6-4, 6-0 straight set victory over Eala. Bonaventure went on to make the finals of the tournament where she finished runner-up to Rebeka Masarova of Spain.
Their encounter this time in France initially appeared to be a repeat of their one-sided match the previous week as Eala was broken three times by Bonaventure who scored an easy opening set win.
The Filipina teen prodigy came back strong in the second set. After she and Bonaventure exchanged service breaks in the first two games, Eala pulled away from a 2-2 tie to take the lead at 4-2 which she maintained to bring the match to an exciting conclusion.
The third set, though, belonged to Bonaventure who has previously played for the Belgian national team in the Federation Cup. Eala had her chances as she saved three break points before dropping her serve in the fifth game to go down 2-3. She also could not convert her own break points in the sixth game, allowing Bonaventure to pull away at 2-5 which proved too much of a deficit for the young Filipina to overcome.
It was still a good tournament for Eala who had to go through two qualifying matches to make it to the main draw. In fact, Eala was the only qualifier among the four semifinalists. On her way to the semis, she prevailed over three highly ranked opponents. This is Eala’s best finish in a tournament of this magnitude.
She will be back in action next week when she joins the World Tennis Tour W100 Shrewsbury in Great Britain.