MANILA – The Philippine tennis team got off to a smashing start at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, advancing to the semifinals of the women’s and men’s team events after sweeping the first round on Friday in Vietnam.
Both teams scored 2-0 in the best-of-three competition at the Hanaka Paris Ocean Park tennis court complex in Tu Son city of Bac Ninh province.
Composed of Alex Eala, Marian Capadocia, Shaira Hope Rivera, and Jenaila Rose Prulla, the Philippine women’s team proved to be overwhelming for Malaysia.
Meanwhile, the men’s team bannered by Francis Casey Alcantara, Jeson Patrombon, Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzales, and Eric Olivarez, Jr. moved past Laos.
Up next for the Philippines in both team events is Thailand.
Eala, Alcantara, Huey, Gonzales, and Rivera were among the players who shared on social media about making it to the semifinals, where the women’s and men’s teams are assured of a bronze medal.
Two-time junior grand slam champion Eala, 16, wrote on Facebook: “Into my first SEA Games semi-finals with Team PH! Today we won our matches against Malaysia in the Team event. Laban ulit!!!”
Prior to winning her maiden SEA Games match to clinch the opening round win for the women’s team, Eala shared what it means to be competing in the biennial multi-sport event where her mother, Rizza Maniego-Eala, has achieved success.
“It is also incredibly meaningful to be following in the footsteps of my mom, Rizza, who was previously a swimmer and competed at the 1985 Games in Bangkok, winning bronze in the 100m backstroke. I cannot wait to try and win for my country, just as she did,” Eala wrote in her blog for the International Tennis Federation.
WTA World No. 397 Eala is coming off last month’s W25 Chiang Rai title victory in Thailand, which is her second professional championship after the 2021 W15 Manacor.
Also last month, doubles specialists Alcantara, Huey, and Gonzales prevailed in tournaments in Egypt and the United States.
Alcantara, a junior grand slam champion, won the M25 Cairo doubles final with Colin Sinclair of Northern Mariana Islands, and Huey and Gonzales bagged the Savannah Challenger doubles championship.
In 2019, Alcantara and Patrombon were the SEA Games men’s doubles gold medalists while Huey and Gonzales were the silver medalists.