Tennis: Eala, Russian partner settle for doubles runner-up finish at W25 Spain

Rosy Mina

Posted at May 22 2021 07:22 PM | Updated as of May 22 2021 07:39 PM

Alex Eala and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia couldn't finish the job against a more experienced pair in Saturday's final. Alex Eala Instagram

MANILA—Ustina Mikulskyte of Lithuania and Oana Georgeta Simion of Romania overpowered Filipino Alex Eala and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia in the $25,000 Platja D’Aro doubles final 6-3, 7-5 Saturday in Spain.

The Filipino ace, who turns 16 on Sunday, May 23, was aiming to bag her first professional doubles championship and her second pro title following her W15 Manacor singles title in January. The W25 Platja D’Aro doubles tournament was also Eala’s first foray into professional doubles. 

The final was an opportunity for the 15-year-old Eala and 18-year-old Selekhmeteva to display their doubles skills, as Eala is the 2020 Australian Open junior girls’ doubles champion and Selekhmeteva the 2019 US Open girls doubles champion. 

But the more experienced Mikulskyte and Simion, both 25, got the better of Eala and Selekhmeteva in the final that had the no-advantage scoring method for games at deuce, also called “sudden death” with the receiver’s choice.

Eala and Selekhmeteva got down to business right away by breaking serve in the opening game after the Filipino tipped a volley that forced an error. Mikulskyte and Simion answered back strongly by churning out a 5-1 lead. 

As the Lithuanian and Romanian were serving for the set, Eala and Selekhmeteva broke serve and held the next game. A long return from the Russian handed over the first set to Mikulskyte and Simion, 6-3, in 32 minutes.

There were no breaks of serve in the succeeding set until the 11th game where Mikulskyte and Simion took a 6-5 lead to serve for the match. In the previous game, Eala and Selekhmeteva failed to convert a break opportunity that was also a set point.

Eala and Selekhmeteva even pulled away at 40-15 as Mikulskyte and Simion were serving for the match, but the Lithuanian and Romanian saved the break points to notch the second set, 7-5, in 50 minutes. They sealed the match with a forehand down the line winner.

In their run-up to the final, the Filipino and Russian eliminated South African Warona Mdlulwa and Spanish Valeria Koussenkova, 6-2, 6-0, in the first round. 

They then upset Russian top seeds Sofya Lansere and Vlada Koval, 6-3, 2-6, 12-10, in the quarterfinals, before ousting Isabelle Haverlag and Suzan Lamens of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-1, in the semifinals. 

As for the singles event, World No. 662 Eala was a junior exempt who had a second-round finish after her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Spaniard Irene Burillo Escorihuela. In the opening round, Eala overcame Spaniard Alba Carrillo Marin, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

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