Since winning the 2022 US Open Girls Grand Slam Title and making history for the Philippines, Alex Eala has been on the receiving end of the world renowned Pinoy Pride, expressed with outpouring love and support in every way imaginable. And while Eala was already a regular resident of sports headlines prior to her most recent feat, this victory definitely takes her to the next level.
What’s even more impressive is how she continues to make the Filipino people fall in love with her even more as they get to know the person beyond the athlete—and she’s not even trying, she’s simply being herself.
If it wasn’t obvious yet just how much we are in awe of our newest national treasure, its surely no longer a question now. And why not?
One cannot help but feel happy and proud at the thought of Alex Eala. There are so many reasons to celebrate her. When we look at her, what we see is a beautiful, eloquent, well-rounded Filipina who is very much in touch with her roots. Oh, and by the way, she also happens to be this kickass tennis player that has brought home glory in the form of grand slam titles in both the singles and doubles categories!
The journey a Grand Slam win takes
Although she is only 17 years old, Alex Eala has already had a long journey to get to where she is today. She started playing tennis at the age of four and made her professional debut at 14. And throughout the years, she has been preparing for her moment.
Most notably, she has been a scholar at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain for the past years, one of the most reputable tennis academies in the world. Here, many of the world’s best young players also train.
Surrounded by other young tennis hopefuls, she thrives. It is because of the healthy competition in the Academy that she is able to grow. ”Everyone pushes each other and it’s not a conflict. A lot of people around the academy inspire me. A lot of people come from diverse backgrounds, different types of struggles, opportunities and privileges. They become huge role models for me.”
But even though she trains at the prestigious Rafa Nadal Academy, she has faced her own fair share of struggles in her career.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs—lots of different coaches,” she says. But even with all the highs and lows she has experienced, it has all helped her to reach her highest level thus far. ”This is the best tennis I’m playing. I am physically in my best shape.”
On the court, her confidence shows.
Building confidence in oneself
Throughout all her singles matches in this year’s US Open, the Filipina didn’t lose a single set; she never had to play a third set.
In tennis, especially at one of the highest levels for a girl her age, this takes confidence. And as early as training, this is something Alex Eala’s entire team made sure to build.
“My goal and my team’s goal is to make training so hard and difficult so matches are more comfortable for me and I can really keep composure,” she explains.
With the years she has spent training and the hours she has spent on court, she has found a way to build trust in herself, as well as confidence.
And although watching the US Open, we didn’t see Alex give up a single set, she is no stranger to losses.
Coming back stronger
Alex Eala started competing in Junior Grand Slams since 2020. And, if you didn’t know, she already has two Junior Grand Slam Doubles titles from the 2020 Australian Open and 2021 French Open.
But in the singles tournaments, it took her four tries to make it to her first Grand Slam title.
When asked about what she relies on when she faces a loss, she points to her coaches and her family. “That’s where they really come in…I’ve lost so many times we just have to move on and keep going.”
But even standing before a loss, she still reverts back in the confidence she has built within herself through the years. ”[I] trust that I did everything I could to prepare beforehand. And if someone beats me it’s not because I didn’t prepare, it’s because they were better on that day.”
And at the US Open Juniors singles tournament this year, she can say that she was the best. Her losses were not for nothing. The moment she lifted her championship trophy, certainly, she must have known it was all worth it.
The roots of her branches
Alex Eala’s victory speech had us all in tears. Not only did she bring home the Philippines’ first ever Grand Slam singles title, but she dedicated to the country as well.
“Buong puso ko itong ipinaglaban, hindi lang para sa sarili ko, kung hindi para sa makatulong din ako sa kinabukasan ng Pilipinas. So hindi lang ito panalo ko, panalo nating lahat,” she said in her speech.
Although she spends most of her time living in Spain to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy, her love and connection to the Philippines is unwavering.
“In my opinion, Filipinos especially the youth has such a capacity to work hard and learn,” she expresses. “I’d love to go home. To experience what is happening there. I think that as a 17 year old this can all be overwhelming. I have to try and stay focused. The distance actually helps me achieve this and stay grounded.”
Now, even far from home, she has become a star anew among the Filipino people. All the headlines read her name, she is on billboards along the highways, and she fills our social media feeds. And all with good reason.
For years, Alex has been working hard to get to where she is, and she deserves every bit of recognition that she gets. And to think, at her age, she still has so much more room to grow.
The Philippines’ tennis ace
At this stage in her life, Alex is focused and dedicated to her tennis career. And listening to her tell her story, her maturity and strong mindset is truly something to behold. With her bulletproof attitude and mindset, combined with the solid support system of family, friends and Filipinos that she has in place, clearly, there is much more that we can expect from her in the future.
Entering this conversation with Alex, we were already collectively awestruck by this remarkable 17-year old. But after having had the chance to speak with her in a more intimate environment, our admiration only grew deeper.
The most special part of speaking to Alex was the feeling of sincerity and genuineness that she emanates. Watching to her pay attention to our questions and listening to her answer them with great honesty and thought, it’s easy to notice that there is a refreshing absence of anything that feels artificial.
It truly is special to be a part of and we feel privileged to be able to do our part in telling her story. Alex Eala, the athlete, is amazing. But Alex Eala, the person, even more so.
With her dedication, her track record, and her humble personality, we know she will go far.
Mabuhay ka Alex Eala! Know that we’ll be rooting for you in all your future endeavors!
Banner image courtesy of Agence France-Presse.