By John Carlo Ayende

Filipina tennis sensation Alex Eala booked her ticket to the W25 El Espinar/Segovia tournament semifinals after eliminating the hometown favorite Rosa Vicens Mas in a close 7-6(3), 7-6(4) triumph in Spain, last July 28.

Photo Courtesy of Alex Eala

It was a bittersweet victory for the 17-year-old Eala as she offered sympathy to those Filipinos who were affected by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Abra last Wednesday.

"I was saddened to hear about the earthquake back home. So this win goes out to all the affected families. I had a huge battle today, winning 7-6/7.6," Eala wrote on her Facebook post.

The WTA World No. 282 tennis player will try to knock out another Spaniard counterpart in Spain’s No. 7 and WTA World No. 326 Eva Guerrero Alvarez on Friday, whom the Filipina had beaten in the W25 Corrois-Seixal first round in Portugal.

Eala won in straight sets, but the Spanish player gave her a tough time in sealing the deal as the 22-year-old Vicens Mas fought back from early deficits to extend the match to a grueling two-hour frenzy.

The Filipina teen established an early 4-2 lead to start off the match, but Vicens Mans prevented Eala from snagging an easy opening set victory by equalizing the score after three deuces.

Despite the challenges, Eala took advantage of her opponents’ errors to reclaim momentum as Vicens Mans’ comeback fell short after committing a double fault.

The Spaniard adjusted from her first set errors to take control of the early stages of the second set, 3-1, but Eala responded with ease and outscored the Spaniard in four straight games to claim the drivers’ seat, 5-3.

With her back against the wall and her tournament life on the line, Vicens Mas saved three match points to even things up at 5-5 in the 10th game, while the Filipina quickly answered back with a holding serve to reclaim the slim advantage.

Vicens Mas did not waste any time to begin another tiebreak on a high note, sitting on a comfortable 4-1 lead and on the verge of forcing the match into a deciding third set, until Eala gained full control in crunch time and scored in five successive possessions to complete a clean sweep.

Eala is looking to add an accolade to her trophy case as she aims to win her third professional title on the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour.

Edited by Quian Vencel Galut