I hope to win a Grand Slam someday: Talking tennis with 12-year-old Filipina international champ

Gil Cadiz

Alex Eala made a splash in the international tennis courts when she won the Les Petits As-Le Mondial Lacoste Girls Singles Championship Match in Tarbes, France last month.

Despite being unseeded (a player who has not been ranked among the top 16 players by the competition’s organizers), she overpowered the tournament’s 7th seed Czech player L. Noskova.

Alex is the top singles player in the under-14 age bracket of the Asian Tennis Federation. After making history in France, she looks forward to earning a stint in the Grand Slam juniors when she turns 13.

Currently a 7th grader at Colegio San Agustin, Alex’s other interests include swimming, drawing, baking and watching videos.

We the Pvblic asked Alex some questions her answers to which offer us a glimpse into the making of a future ITF Grand Slam winner. Read on.

At what age did you start playing tennis?

I started playing tennis when I was four years old.

How did you get into it?

Even when I was still a baby, I remember I was always watching my brother play tennis. When I turned four, I also wanted to play the sport. My Lolo Papa is the one who taught me how to play and continues to be our coach and oversees all our training programs.

What made you fall in love with it? What do you love about it?

I love tennis because of the values it teaches me – discipline, independence, determination and the basic traits that I will most definitely be needing in the future. Tennis gives me a rush that nothing else can. When I’m on the court, it’s like nothing else matters. I just enjoy the moment. Tennis is a part of who I am. It has helped me become the person that I am today. Through tennis, I met some of my closest friends. It has helped me build a relationship with my family that is unbreakable and has helped me understand more about myself.

At what age did you start training seriously?

My first tournament was when I was 6 and I have been competing since.

How often do you train now? What’s your training routine like?

I train every day except Sundays. Three times a week, I work out with my conditioning coach in the mornings before school. Every day, after school, I go train at the courts for two hours. I get to play more during the summer or school breaks.

How do you strike a balance between tennis and studies?

I spend every hour of my day trying to be productive. When it is time for school, I focus only on that and when it’s time for tennis, I focus only on that.

How does it feel to have won the Les Petits As-Le Mondial Lacoste Girls Singles Championship Match?

It is incredible because I felt very lucky to have gotten the wild card, so I really did my best to win despite all the amazing players that I was up against. Knowing now that my hard work has paid off, it gives me an amazing feeling.

How did you prepare for that match?

I prepared for the match by sticking to my routine, sticking to my strategy and thinking positive.

What’s next for you after this sporting triumph?

I will be part of the Philippine Team that will compete at the World Juniors Qualifying Rounds in Thailand this February. We hope to win to get into the World Juniors main draw to be held at the Czech Republic in July or August. There is also a big tournament in early May called the ATF/ITF Division 1 also to be held in Thailand. From there, I proceed to Paris for the French Open. Special thanks to no less than the President of the French Tennis Federation, Mr. Bernard Ferrandini, who gave me a wild card for the 2018 French Open Juniors Qualifying Rounds because of my win in Les Petits-As. I am excited to be playing at the French Open which will also be my first International Tennis Federation (ITF) 18-under Tournament. I turn 13 on May 23 and it will only be after this date that I can play any ITF tournament based on the rules. I am excited that my first ITF tournament will be at the French Open.

The Asian Tennis Federation currently ranks you as the top singles player in the under-14 age bracket. What are your thoughts on that?

It brings me joy because I did work hard every day to earn that position.

Who is your tennis idol? Why?

My favorite player is Simona Halep. I really love the way she plays and how she acts on and off the court.

What’s your ultimate goal in tennis?

I’m really hoping to someday win a Grand Slam and become one of the top players.

Why should kids get into sports? How will you convince them to get into it?

Though it is not a necessity, I really encourage kids to get into sports because it helps you grow as a person. I will try to set a good example and inspire young kids to follow their dreams.

All photos taken from www.facebook.com/AlexEala.

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