Sun 1 October 2023

50-50: Predicting Alex Eala’s path to tennis stardom (Part 1) U.S. Open girls singles jug is no small feat, but success in seniors play not assured

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Pinay teenage sensation Alex Eala hit the banner of national dailies for accomplishing a new milestone in Philippine sports: A first tennis Grand Slam singles trophy.

Eala took home the bacon by routing Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4, in the finals of U.S. Open girls singles tournament in New York yesterday midnight (Manila time).

Sure, her crowning as the new youth tennis champ is worth celebrating considering that the Philippines is not a tennis country. Here, basketball remains to be national sport, and professional boxing, billiards, and recently, weightlifting are the sports where Filipinos perform the best in the global stage.

But Filipino sports fans must temper their excitement about Eala’s victory as technically, this is not a Grand Slam championship but an age-specific side event for girls below eighteen.
Be that as it may, Eala is in elite company with the likes of Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Marion Bartoli, and Victoria Azarenka who have won this “side event” in the past. Like Eala, these tennis legends were once little girls who won in the juniors level and worked their way out toward greatness.

However, a good majority of ex-U.S. Open girls singles champions did not have such legendary careers, though most had long careers, a modest number of trophies in their closet, and a good amount of cash in their bank accounts.

While Eala and her coaches at the Rafa Nadal Academy are the ones who can determine the future of her tennis career, a perusal of the accomplishments of past champions of the same tournament is, in my opinion, a good indicator of what we can expect from our young tennis ace. We are going to crunch the data in Part Two of this story.

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