Eala trumped Japan’s Kyoka Okamura in the quarterfinals of the Asian Games last September 27 in Hangzhou, China. This guarantees the 18-year-old a podium finish ahead of her semifinal bout against the winner of the matchup between Zheng Qinwen from China and Park So-Hyun of South Korea.
The medal finish is the Philippines’ first in women’s tennis at the Games since Desideria Ampon and Patricia Yngayo in 1966. The country’s previous medal win was courtesy of Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino, who nabbed bronze in the men’s singles and doubles in 2006.
YouTube: One Sports
Spanning over 2 hours and 27 minutes, the contest saw the 4th-ranked Eala struggle out of the gate against the 11th-ranked Kyoka, dropping the first game, 0-6. She later found her footing in the next two contests, 7-5 and 6-0, for a come-from-behind victory.
“I think the adrenaline is pretty high right now, but overall super happy to be able to overcome the adversities that came with today…I think it took everything I had for today and I couldn’t have done it without the team for sure. Without them cheering me on, it would have been more difficult than it was,” Eala tells One Sports.
Prior to her quarterfinal win over Okamura, Eala won against Pakistan’s Sarah Ibrahim Khan and India’s Rutuha Bhosale in the opening rounds.