Alex Eala is on the right track after a sizzling performance in the opening round of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) W60 Bellinzona Tournament in Switzerland.
The 15-year-old Filipino prodigy opened her campaign with a win over an older, more seasoned Margot Yerolymos of France, 7-6, 6-2, late Wednesday (Manila time) to advance to the Round of 16 of this prestigious tourney that stakes $60,000 prize money.
She is facing a familiar foe in Laura Iona Paar of Romania at press time for a chance to barge in the Top 700 of the Women’s Tennis Association official ranking.
It’s going to be her second time to clash with the Romanian, who is twice her age at 32 years old.
In fact, she already beat Paar in a three-set match in the opening round of the $25,000 Trophee de la Ville Meet in Grenoble, France in February.
But a lot of things happened since then.
Aside from bagging her first singles titles in the professional ranks, Eala also had a drastic improvement after seeing action in six tourneys in just three months, including the prestigious Miami Open that featured world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia and No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan.
Now, Eala is at No. 715 in the WTA ranking and a deep run in this Swiss tourney would definitely send her above the Top 700 mark.
Her father, Mike, said he likes what he’s seeing from his daughter.
“Her progress has been steady. Her fitness level has improved a lot there has been a lot of attention given to injury prevention as well,” said Mike, who sent his daughter to Mallorca, Spain to undergo rigid training at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy.
“There is no secret to her performance. I guess, like any sport, being a hard worker and being surrounded by a good team is paramount.”