By Mark Angelo Mañez

PHOTO: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala pulled out all the stops to overcome Romanian foe Laura-Ioana Paar, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in the first round of the ITF W25 Grenoble tournament in France on Tuesday.

The 15-year-old had to grind out a three-set thriller against Paar that lasted two hours and 18 minutes to move to the Round of 16 of her fourth pro tournament of the year.

Eala started the match strong with a lopsided 6-3 set win against the 32-year-old Paar in the opener.

It looked to be the same story in the second, where the Philippine wunderkind took an early 3-0 win.

But Paar's advantage in experience came in handy with the Romanian able to hold her bearings and win six of the next seven games to force the third set, 6-4.

Entering the third set on equal footing, both tenisters engaged in a back-and-forth affair.

It was Paar who took the advantage late, 4-3. But Eala was able to hold on and win the next three games to steal the victory and head into the next round.

Eala will face tournament seventh-seed Cristina Busca of Spain in the second round.

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