HUA HIN, Thailand – Alexandra “Alex” Eala of the Philippines has qualified for a WTA event for the first time via an impressive win at the Thailand Open qualifying second round, Sunday in Hua Hin.
The 17-year-old Filipino No. 4 seed ousted 19-year-old Belarusian No. 9 seed Kristina Dmitruk, 6-2, 7-5, to enter the WTA 250 event's main draw competition scheduled from January 30 to February 5.
"I feel amazing," Eala exclaimed during the on-court interview upon accomplishing her maiden foray into a WTA main draw through qualifying.
"This is a very good experience for me," added the 2022 US Open Juniors singles champion.
The teenagers, both two-time ITF women's singles winners, are former ITF Juniors World No. 2 aces at a career-best WTA ranking of World No. 214 for Eala and World No. 234 for Dmitruk.
Their battle on the True Arena Hua Hin Sports Club's Centre Court started in favor of Eala, who took a 4-2 lead after Dmitruk netted a service return.
Eala, the junior girls' doubles champion of the 2020 Australian Open and 2021 Roland Garros, secured her second service break to serve for the set at 5-2.
With two set points on hand, Eala took the opening set, 6-2, after her opponent hit a forehand long.
Dmitruk, the 2021 Wimbledon junior girls' doubles winner, overcame a 2-4 deficit in the second set by holding serve twice and breaking serve after Eala hit a backhand error.
Eala, a Rafa Nadal Academy scholar, caught up at 5-5 after Dmitruk hit a backhand long.
The Filipino forced the next game to deuce with a backhand winner down the line, and clinched a crucial service break to serve for the match at 6-5.
She claimed victory, 7-5, after her opponent let out a long forehand. After which, she went to the stands to hug her parents, Mike and Rizza Maniego-Eala, and greet her coach, Adrien Vaseux.
In the opening round of qualifying, Eala prevailed over fellow left-hander and World No. 898 wildcard Xinyun Han of China, 6-1, 7-6(6).
The Thailand Open, presented by E@, has 32 players for singles and 16 pairs for doubles in the main draw.
It is Eala’s fifth WTA event, following her wildcard entries into the 2021 Winners Open main draw in Romania, 2021 Miami Open qualifying in the United States, 2022 Miami Open main draw, and 2022 Madrid Open qualifiers in Spain.
The 2023 Thailand Open singles seedings list is headlined by 2019 US Open champion and former World No. 4 Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
She is followed by No. 2 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, No. 3 seed Xiyu Wang of China, and No. 4 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia.
The fifth to eighth seeds are Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, 2022 Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria of Germany, Xinyu Wang of China, and Linda Fruhvirtova of Czech Republic, 17, who posted a fourth-round finish at the 2023 Australian Open.