Faced by a spunky upstart playing like she did in the not so distant past, Alex Eala on Sunday responded with a game that gave a glimpse of what she could become in the near future.
The Filipino hotshot yielded her serve right in opening game and then blew three match points some time later before cutting down 15-year-old Nikola Bartunkova of Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-3, for the Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio girls singles title in Milan, Italy.
It also sealed a double treat for Eala, who joined hands with American partner Madison Sieg to capture the girls doubles championship late Saturday.
The Czech wunderkind, who beat her two years ago in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Junior Championships, stung her with an opening-game service break at Campo Tribuna center court.But it only fired up the 16-year-old Eala, who displayed maturity and composure as she quickly broke back, held serve and then broke again at love in the next three games.
Bartunkova, ranked 863 in women’s and 60th in girls, was thrown off-footed after that.
More importantly, the top-seeded Eala made it clear that she deserved the lofty billing despite the presence of gritty young guns that pushed her to the limit on the way to the championship.
With Eala serving for the match at 40-0, the feisty Bartunkova decided to go down firing and tracked her down to break at 5-3. But Eala buckled up to take the next game and the crown.It was Eala’s first title since winning JA in Cape Town, South Africa, two years ago. The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar now has four ITF junior titles under her belt.
Eala and Sieg bested Croatia’s Lucija Ciric Bagaric and Belgium’s Sofia Costoulas, 6-4, 4-6, (13-11) in the finals of the tournament classified just a rank lower than the Grand Slams.
Eala now has a collection of five juniors doubles titles, counting the Australian Open last year and the French Open early this year.
Bartunkova, seeded 14th, trounced Clervie Ngounoue of the United States, 6-3, 6-3, to make the finals. INQ
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