By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Alex Eala returned from a month-long break in style, stunning Leyre Romero Gormez of Spain, 6-1, 6-0, at the start of the W60 Trnava 2nd Empire Women’s Indoor Tennis Tournament in Slovakia Tuesday, March 7 (Wednesday in Manila).
The 17-year-old Eala hardly encountered trouble in dispatching her sixth-seeded rival with her pin-point shots to advance to the second round of the $60,000 event.
The easy victory arranged the Filipina tennis sensation a meeting with fellow unseeded rival Sonay Kartal of Great Britain, who needed more flexing in edging wildcard bet and hometown player Natalia Krockova, 6-4, 6-3.
This marks be the first time that Eala and Kartal are facing in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) scene, with the PH bet holding a slight advantage against her Slovakian rival.
Though younger than Kartal by four years, Eala boasts of a higher ITF ranking at No. 220 compared to the Slovakian’s No. 262.
Kartal, however, has four ITF titles last year – all from $25,000 events – and is coming off a semifinal appearance at the W25 Glasgow tournament in Great Britain last February.
The last time Eala took part in a tournament was in January in Thailand where she failed to get the first round after going through two qualifying matches.
Aside from the singles, Eala is also seeing action the doubles with Lithuanian partner Justina Mikulskyte where they are set to clash against Slovakian pair Ela Platenikova and Nina Vargova in the opening round.