BUOYED by a historic US Open conquest, Alex Eala roared and soared back into the Top 50 International Tennis Federation (ITF) world junior rankings.
The Filipina tennis pride leapt 132 notches all the way from No. 167 to place at No. 35 with 1,106.75 points in the world junior list despite only a single event so far this season.
That lone tilt proved to be a giant stepping stone as the 17-year-old Ms. Eala harvested 1,000 points from winning the US Open for her breakthrough singles Grand Slam in her budding career.
A two-time doubles Grand Slam titlist in the 2020 Australian Open and 2021 French Open, Ms. Eala’s championship in the US tennis major was also the first for the Philippines in any singles Grand Slam tournament that made her return to junior play a sweet double jackpot.
Ms. Eala, a scholar of the Rafael Nadal Academy in Spain, was once the world junior No. 2 player last year but slid outside Top 150 due to inactivity after opting to spend more time in the women’s professional circuit.
In her comeback, the No. 10 seed Ms. Eala was relentless the entire tournament without a single set allowed through six rounds highlighted by a 6-2, 6-4 finals win over No. 3 seed and world junior No. 2 Lucie Havlickova of Czech Republic.
Ms. Havlickova (3,598.5), despite the loss, overtook Belgium’s Sofia Costoulas (3,085.5) to become the new world junior No.1 player.
Aside from the Czech ace, Ms. Eala toppled top-ranked opponents in her US Open run including No. 7 Victoria Mboko of Canada, No. 10 Taylah Preston of Australia, No. 12 Mirra Andreeva of Russia, No. 18 Annabelle Xu of Canada and No. 28 Nina Vargova of Slovakia.
In the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Ms. Eala also slightly improved to No. 288 from No. 297 with two titles to show in the 2021 W15 Manacor in Spain and 2022 W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand. — John Bryan Ulanday