April 25, 2024

Alex Eala, Francis Alcantara secure mixed doubles bronze to give Philippines two medals in Asian Games tennis

Alex Eala, Francis Alcantara secure mixed doubles bronze to give Philippines two medals in Asian Games tennis
One Sports/Paolo del Rosario

Eighteen-year old Filipina tennis star Alex Eala continues to make history at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.

She became a double medalist on Friday after securing the mixed doubles bronze with Francis Alcantara. It was a feat that the Philippines last achieved in 2006 back in Doha, when Cecil Mamiit won the bronze in men's singles and another in men's doubles with Eric Taino.

At that time, Eala was one year old.

"Circle of life," she told One Sports' Paolo del Rosario, smiling.

Eala was visibly happier after the match, compared to her singles semifinals against top seed and world no. 23 Zheng Qinwen of China on Thursday, which she lost in heartbreaking fashion. 

"I enjoyed it so much, especially yesterday when everyone was cheering against me," she admitted. "It was a huge help to have this small group of people I knew were here for me, also inspiring me to fight harder."

The pair of Eala and Alcantara, seeded 14th, had an impressive run in mixed doubles. In the second round, they quickly dispatched Nepal's Sunira Thapa and Pranav Khanal, 6-0, 6-0.

The Philippine pair then faced top seed Ankita Raina and Yuki Bhambri of India and beat them, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8. They then had to withstand another three-setter in the quarterfinals against 11th seed Luksika Kumkhum and Maximus Parapol Jones of Thailand, 6-2, 2-6, 10-7.

But they finally ran out of luck against ninth seed Liang En-shuo and Tsung-hao Huang of Chinese Taipei in the semifinals, 7-5, 6-3.

"Very happy with our first time playing together," Alcantara said. "Could've been both sides talaga 'yung match, but kudos to the other team. They played really well from the start."

Eala was visibly more relaxed after the match.

"It's quite easy to play doubles. I'd say he's a really good leader. Siya talaga mas experienced sa doubles. I tried my best to execute whatever was in his brain," Eala added.

"It's so easy to have fun on the court and to play our best when the chemistry is there," Eala said. "I chose a good partner."

Indeed, she did and together they won bronze. 

"Everything aligned for us this year," Eala noted. "Hopefully, next time, they will align a little straighter."

After their impressive showing in Hangzhou, there's reason to believe that everything will fall into place for these two sooner rather than later.

(With reports from Paolo del Rosario, One Sports)