Sports

Wonder Kid: 12-Year-Old Filipino Prodigy Wins Tennis Tournament in France

Alex Eala’s win marks the first time a wildcard has ever won the title.
IMAGE COURTESY MICHAEL FRANCIS M. EALA
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Tennis prodigy Alex Eala earned the Les Petit U-14 crown in Tarbes, France last week, strengthening her claim as one to watch in the tennis world.

During the final leg of the international competition, in the division solely for girls the age of 14 and below, Eala defeated Czech bet Linda Noskova with a score of 5-7, 6-3, 7-6.


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Eala's winning moment in Tarbes, France

She took her place unseeded. Since she didn't have enough points since she hardly ever plays in Europe, she was granted a wildcard slot. She then rose in the ranks, and after five victorious matches, she made it to the finals, where she squared off with Noskova. The last 20 minutes of the competition were tense, with both Eala and Noskova delivering powerful returns, ending with a close game. Eala's win marks the first time a wildcard has ever won the title.

There’s more to come for the young athlete. Her win at Les Petit warranted a surprise invitation to the French Open 2018 junior qualifiers at Roland-Garros as a wildcard entry. The opportunity to participate in the qualifiers for the major tournament was awarded by the president of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Ferrandini.

“Alex says that she still can’t believe she won the Les Petits As Tournament,” proud dad Mike Eala shares with T&C, “She was also shocked when we told her she was given a wildcard for the French Open junior qualifying rounds and is excited to compete in Roland Garros.” Eala also shares that his daughter is wasting no time preparing for the upcoming opportunity.

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Alex and Mike Eala

No stranger to international accomplishment, Eala was most recently a runner-up at the Orange Bowl in Florida, under the division for girls 12 and below. Earlier last year, she came out number one on the ranking by the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) and together with her partner from Indonesia, Priska Madelyn Nughoho, was awarded Doubles Team of the Year by Tennis Europe for winning five doubles title throughout the summer tour of Europe. These achievements, and countless others, earned Eala the recognition that she needed to compete in Tarbes.

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Eala poses with her six-foot trophy from the Little Mo International Grand Slam in December 2013.

Eala began playing tennis at the age of four. She grew up in an athletic family and spent most of her childhood attending her older brother Miko’s tennis practices. Miko, 15, recently bagged his own title at the 16 and under Eddie Herr Boys Doubles Championship with a Vietnamese counterpart and had been given the top rank by ATF when he was 12 years old as well.

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SC Segment Alex Eala started playing tennis since she was 4

12-year old Filipina tennis star Alex Eala shares with us her experience at Les Petits in France and her preparations for the upcoming 2018 Roland Garros Junior French Championships this May. *** Watch #SportsCenterPH every night at 9:30 PM LIVE on TV5 or via live stream on Sports5's YouTube channel.

Posted by Sports5 on Thursday, February 8, 2018

Alex began her competitive career at the age of six and won her first junior Grand Salm Championship at eight, after winning the Little Mo International Grand Slam tournament.


Eala competing at the World Junior Tennis competition final qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand.

Luckily, she has her family’s backing and her brother’s expertise in the sport to support her own journey. Diligently, she trains in the Valle Verde Country Club every day, with the desire to become a top professional tennis player in the future. At the rate she’s going, her dreams aren’t far from coming to fruition.

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Follow her journey on Facebook here.

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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