Filipina tennis phenom Alex Eala and her partner Oksana Selekhmeteva earned a spot in the semifinals of the doubles competition of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Tour W25 Platja D'Aro after they edged the top-seeded Russian tandem of Sofya Lansere and Vlada Koval, 6-3, 2-6, 12-10, on Thursday night in Spain.
The 15-year old Eala and her 18-year old Russian partner got off to a great start as they led, 5-1. Their opponents kept their hopes alive at 3-5 but Eala’s team responded by taking the next game to grab the first set at 6-3. Lansere and Koval retaliated in the second set as they dominated Eala and Selekhmeteva, 5-0, before eventually capturing a 6-2 victory to send the match to a tiebreak.
Eala and Selekhmeteva were on the vrege of claiming the win as they held a 9-6 lead in the race-to-10 tiebreak but their Russian foes preserved three match points to tie the game up at 9-9. However, Eala and Selekhmeteva powered through to end the match, 12-10, and move on to the semifinals where they will battle Isabelle Haverlag and Suzan Lamens of the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Eala’s run in the singles competition came to a screeching halt after she was beaten by Irene Burillo Escorihuela of Spain in straight sets, 2-6, 4-6, in the second round.
The Filipina netter looked nimble early in the match against the 23-year old Escorihuela—who is ranked no. 271 in the Women’s Tennis Association singles rankings—as she surged in front in the first set, 2-0. However, Escorihuela suddenly took charge, breaking the Filipina youngster’s serve three times in the next six games to take the first set, 6-2.
The second set was played on even terms early on and was knotted at 3-3 when Escorihuela broke Eala’s serve and held her own to take a 5-3 lead. Eala was able to stave off defeat as she won the next game to close the gap at 4-5. But Escorihuela proved too skillful and strong as she blanked Eala in the next game to wrap up the second set, 6-4, and claim the victory.
The loss ended Eala’s quest for her second professional crown. She started the year on a rousing note, winning her first pro title in the first leg of the W15 Manacor back in January. However, she has failed to reach the finals ever since. (JNP)