For now, playing in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games is not part of the plans of Filipina tennis star Alex Eala.
The 17-year-old Eala, who has returned home to Manila for a short visit to be with her family, said this as she tries to join and qualify in as many Grand Slam tournaments, including the French Open this year.
Ranked no. 217 in the world, Eala explained that the Women’s Tennis Association has allocated her 20 professional tournaments to join before she turns 18 on May 23.
After joining 15, Eala felt that she may run into scheduling conflicts if she suits up for the national team in the SEA Games.
The matches of the 2023 French Open begin on May 28 at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, while competitions in the SEA Games in Cambodia are slated from May 6 to 16.
“I know that it’s in May. But I have to sit down with my team and discuss this if it can be included,” said Eala during a homecoming press conference on Tuesday at the Globe Tower inside the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
Eala, who is now supported in her campaign by both Globe Telecom and Bank of Philippine Islands, fell three notches down this week from no. 214 in the WTA rankings to 217,
She returned to Manila last with her father Michael, after Eala got eased out of the 2023 Women’s Tennis Association Thailand Open first round where Maria Tatja of Germany coasted to a 6-2, 6-2 win over the Filipina in the first round of the women’s singles at the True Arena in Hua Hin.
She described the game of Tatja as unconventional, and playing against her gave Eala an idea on what she needs to improve on.
“This was expected. She performed well. She got through the qualifiers and into the main draw, and went up against someone who was in the semifinals of Wimbledon. Although she lost, she learned a lot of things that will give her an insight on what she needs to do in her next games,” said her dad Michael.
Last month, Eala made her debut in the qualifying draw of 2023 Australian Open but lost to Misaki Doi in a tight three-setter.
Eala said she has five more professional tournaments left before her 18th birthday, which falls five days before the French Open.
“And so, until the French Open qualifiers, I will have five more tournaments before my 18th birthday,” added Eala.
In the last SEA Games, Eala brought home three bronze medals in the singles, mixed doubles and in the women’s team event.
Eala, who will be on vacation until Wednesday next week, said she is enjoying her stay in the country with her family, and won’t be doing any training until she gets back to the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Spain.
“I’m having such a great time. I’m on a break. I’m having a vacation,” said Eala.
Her dad said the Asian Games is another story, as Eala could join the quadrennial meet since it will fall on September 23 up to October 8, 2023 in Hangzhou, China.
“Alex will most likely play in this one,” said Michael.
Eala continues to be guided by coaches Daniel Gomez and Frenchman Adrien Alexis Vaseux of the Rafa Nadal Academy.