UP AGAINST a 32-year old multi-titled Romanian rival, 15-year-old Alex Eala just refused to be intimidated.
Showing big fighting heart, Eala bucked 10 double faults to beat Laura Loana Paar, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and jumpstart her bid in the Trophee de la Ville tournament Tuesday night in Grenoble, France.
Playing in her second $25,000 event since last year, Eala started aggressively, mixing her shots pretty well that oftentimes caught her Romanian rival by surprise, especially in that 8th game that saw her break her rival’s serve to go up 5-3 and eventually take the opener.
For a while, Eala appeared headed for an easy two-setter win when she raced to a 3-0 lead in the next set but the Romanian – with 13 ITF titles to her credit – rallied furiously to force a deciding set.
Despite that meltdown, Eala remained cool and focused.
As soon as she recovered her bearing, she again awed her rival with powerful double-fisted shots until shot got the break she needed in the 9th game.
She produced some excellent shots in that game to take a 5-4 lead before surviving a breakpoint to finally wrap up the match in two hours and 18 minutes.
Eala highlighted her win with two aces that somehow made up for her erratic serves that saw her tally 55 percent (55 of 100) on first serve and 78 percent (35 of 45) second serve.
With her win, Eala matched her second round showing the first time she played in the W25 event a tthe Open Gran Canaria Nosolotenis in Spain last November.
In the Round-of-16, Eala battles seventh seed Cristina Bucsa of Spain, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over unseeded Martina Di Giuseppe of Italy.
Eala was allowed to compete in the event – thanks to the Junior Exempt Program where the top Junior players at the of the year are entitled play a number of pro matches.
Eala is coming off a successful three-leg campaign in $15,000 events in Spain that saw her winning her first title – topping the kickoff leg.
She is now ranked No. 942 in the pros. (REY C. LACHICA)