The Philippines’ Alexandra “Alex” Eala became the first Filipino to win a Grand Slam singles championship at the US Open Juniors in New York City.
The 17-year-old athlete, who had previously won two junior doubles Grand Slam titles, was the No. 10 seed going into the tournament, which was held Sept. 4–10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Rafa Nadal Academy scholar swept all her matches in the tournament before defeating Czech No. 2 seed Lucie Havlickova 6-2, 6-4, in the final match on Saturday.
Before reaching the final, Eala defeated Canadian Annabelle Xu 6-3, 6-0 in the first round; Slovakian Nina Vargova 6-2, 6-3 in the second round; and Australian No. 8 seed Taylah Preston 6-2, 7-6(1) in the third round.
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Her momentum continued in her succeeding matches, defeating Russian No. 14 seed Mirra Andreeva 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and Canadian No. 9 seed Victoria Mboko 6-1, 7-6(5) in the semifinals.
After her match with Havlickova, Eala ran to the stands to celebrate with coach Adrien Vaseux of the Rafa Nadal Academy, her parents Michael and Rizza Eala and her brother Miko, who also plays on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Tour and for Penn State in the United States NCAA Division 1.
“I wholeheartedly fought for this not only for myself but also to help with the future of Philippine tennis. So, this is not just my victory, but the victory of all of us,” Eala said in Filipino during the awarding of her US Open girls’ singles championship trophy.
She also commended Havlickova before thanking her family, those who supported her, the tournament organizers, her sponsors and her team at the Rafa Nadal Academy.
Eala, who won the girls’ doubles titles at the 2020 Australian Open and the 2021 French Open, also participated in the Junior Girls’ Doubles draw with Andreeva and defeated American Shannon Lam and Iva Jovic 6-2, 6-2 in the opening round.
They were defeated in the second round by Germans Carolina Kuhl and Ella Seidel.
Aside from Eala, the only other Filipino to win a Grand Slam championship is Francis Casey Alcantara, who won the 2009 Australian Open boys’ doubles title.
Last month, Eala made history by becoming the highest-ranked Filipino on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour at World No. 280, surpassing Maricris Fernandez-Gentz, who became No. 284 in 1999. Eala, who now ranks as the World No. 297, made her debut on the ITF Women’s Circuit on March 4, 2020. She currently holds two ITF titles: the 2021 W15 Manacor in Spain and the 2022 W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand.