November 20 ------ After opening her campaign with an upset win, Alex Eala couldn’t pull off a repeat against Lara Salden of Belgium, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2, to bow out of the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain on Thursday, November 19.
The 15-year-old Filipina standout forced a decider, but the 21-year-old Salden immediately seized control in the last set and broke Eala early to race to a 3-0 lead on the way to wrapping up their second-round match in the $25,000 International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Tour event.
Eala, the juniors world No. 2 player, had advanced after stunning No. 8 seed Francesca Jones of Great Britain, 6-3, 7-6 (3), in the opening round. But she couldn’t carry the momentum the following day as Eala got off to a nightmarish start and Salden seemed always a step ahead in the opening set. Salden, ranked 246th in the WTA world rankings, broke Eala 3 times to shut out her teenage foe. But Eala, the 2020 Australian Open juniors doubles champion, displayed remarkable resilience as she came back determined to even things up in the 2nd set. Eala broke Salden in the very first game and stormed to a 4-1 lead before closing out the set, 6-2, to set up a decider.
Salden, though, responded with a 3-0 start before Eala finally held serve in the 4th game to get herself in the scoreboard. The Belgian then fended off the Filipina’s comeback attempts as Salden closed out the match, 6-2, to boot Eala out of the competition. Eala, who studies and trains at the Rafael Nadal Academy in Spain, made her women's pro debut at the W15 Monastir in Tunisia last March. The 2020 French Open juniors semifinalist also joined an ITF pro event in Castellon early November where she won her first round match against 24-year-old Spanish Alba Carillo Marin. However, the tournament eventually got cancelled after 3 days of inclement weather.