Alex Eala bowed out of the 2020 French Open in what many see as a stunner. But for the young 15-year-old, it served as an eye-opener for what lies ahead.
Entering the Grand Slam tournament as the second seed, the Filipina had to grind her way to the semifinals. Waiting for her was hometown favorite Elsa Jacquemot, the third seed.
Tired legs and fatigue may have played a role in the Final Four. The Quezon City-born tennister succumbed in straight sets to her French counterpart, falling 3-6, 3-2, Friday evening (Manila time).
For her, the daily games, the quick change of pace, and the fast re-adjustments are what separates the best from the rest.
She learned that lesson well from the two-week-long tournament.
“Your mentality is really what differentiates you from your opponents,” Eala told Power & Play, Saturday morning.
“In a tournament like this, skill levels are very much the same. It’s a matter of who can sustain more.”
But in the tennis circuit, one cannot sulk on a loss.
It is the mentality of even the greatest of players since next week, there will be a new tournament to play in. All they do is pack their bags, leave, then train again.
Still, her semis finish in Roland Garros was historic for Filipinos, as she became the first player from the Philippines to advance that far in the 124-year-old sporting tradition.
Despite her young age, Eala hopes that she was able to show the world that even Filipinos can rise in a sport dominated by westerners.
“I would like the country to be respected in the sports industry. In some specific sports, you hear your opponents say that if you’re playing someone from the Philippines, it’s easier.”