Tennis: Eala, Alcantara assured of Asiad doubles bronze

Rosy Mina

Posted at Sep 28 2023 08:22 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2023 03:05 PM

Francis Casey Alcantara and Alex Eala at the 2023 Unified Tennis Philippines recognition and coffee-table book launch. Rosy Mina
Francis Casey Alcantara and Alex Eala at the 2023 Unified Tennis Philippines recognition and coffee-table book launch. Rosy Mina

No. 14 seeds Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara are guaranteed a bronze medal in mixed doubles, which is the second tennis medal of the Philippines at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

This, after they defeated 11th seeds Luksika Kumkhum and Maximus Parapol Jones of Thailand in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-4, at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

Alcantara dedicated the win to his former coach Jun Toledo, whose passing was announced by the Philippine Tennis Academy this afternoon.

“This one’s for you Coach Jun Toledo, I know you were watching me up there. Thank you for all the memories! Rest in Peace my friend,” he wrote on Instagram.

Alcantara then addressed his doubles partner, “Tough one in singles today but thanks for giving your all in doubles.”

Earlier in the day, the fourth-seeded Eala bagged the women’s singles bronze after losing to Chinese top seed and WTA World No. 23 Qinwen Zheng in the semifinals, 1-6, 7-6(5), 3-6.

When Eala returned to action on Court 2, she and Alcantara began the quarterfinal clash with a service break at 40-15.

Kumkhum and Jones broke back, and the teams kept the score close at 3-3.

Following an exchange of breaks, the Filipinos broke at 40-30 to serve for the set at 5-4, and they claimed the opening set with a love hold, 6-4.

Eala and Alcantara maintained their momentum as they held for 2-0 by overcoming two deuces.

After the Thais caught up with a quick hold followed by a break at deuce, the tandems held serve to be even at 3-3.

Eala and Alcantara seized control, 5-3, after converting their fourth break point in the seventh game and notching a decisive hold at 40-30.

Kumkhum and Jones managed to hold as they were serving to stay in contention, and Eala and Alcantara replied by reaching 40-30 to earn their lone match point.

The Philippine duo served out the victory, 6-4, to progress into Friday’s semifinals versus No. 9 seeds En-Shuo Liang and Tsung-Hao Huang of Chinese Taipei.

Eala and Alcantara had six aces, four double faults, and 69 total points won while Kumkhum and Jones racked up one ace, two double faults, and 60 total points won.

The quarterfinalists gained eight break points each, and the Filipinos won five of them while the Thais converted three chances.

Both junior doubles grand slam champions, Eala and Alcantara received a bye in the opening round then trounced Sunira Thapa and Pranav Khanal of Nepal in the second round, 6-0, 6-0.

They went on to shock top seeds Ankita Raina and Yuki Bhambri of India in the third round, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8.

Eala, 18, won the girls’ doubles crowns at the 2020 Australian Open and 2021 Roland Garros.

The four-time ITF women’s singles winner with three Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) bronze medals became the first Filipino to achieve a grand slam singles championship at the 2022 US Open Juniors.

The 31-year-old Alcantara also conquered the Australian Open as the 2009 boys’ doubles titlist, making him the first Philippine player to conquer a grand slam event.

The 20-time ITF men’s doubles champion first saw action in Hangzhou on Sunday alongside fellow two-time SEAG gold medalist Ruben Gonzales.

The men’s doubles fourth seeds suffered a 6-4, 4-6, 5-10 upset in the first round against Thantub Suksumrarn and Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul of Thailand.


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