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Eala books first-ever finals ticket in ITF tour; beats Karunaratne in straight sets

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Filipino tennis prodigy and Globe Ambassador Alex Eala defeated Adithya Karunaratne of Hong Kong in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 to enter the finals of the Rafael Nadal Academy World Tennis Tour in Manacor, Spain.

The win catapulted the 15-year-old Filipino to her first-ever title match in the main draw of an International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) women’s tournament.

Eala was in control in the match as she defeated Karunaratne, a 19-year-old player who reached a career-high ranking of 785th in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour. Eala took the first set, 6-3, by relying and holding her serve.

In the second set, Eala sustained her momentum jumping to a 2-0 lead. The Globe Ambassador broke Karunaratne in the 5th frame to go up 4-1 and move within two games of a finals’ berth.

Karunaratne, however, broke Eala’s service to cut her lead to 4,-2 when Eala’s return sailed wide after the Hong Kong player took the advantage. In the seventh frame, it was Eala’s turn to break serve Karunaratne to go up 5-2 and with her serving for the set and the match.

In the next frame, Eala double faulted with the score at 40-all to give Karunaratne a lifeline and eventually yielded the game, 5-3. Karunaratne proved a tough nut to crack as she also won the next game to cut Eala’s lead to 5-4.

With her rival closing in, Eala, once more dug deep to end her opponent’s bid to extend the match as she ended the set and the game at 6-4.

Eala will face Yvonne Cavalle of Spain in the finals and at the same time will gun for her first-ever title in the women’s tour.