Eala bags bronze with Alcantara for another historic stride in Asiad debut

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alex eala and francis alcantara as mixed doubles partner in the 19th asian games
TRIUMPHANT FINISH. First-time partners Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara placed third in the mixed doubles of the 19th Asian Games after losing to their Taiwanese foes. PHOTO: PSC-POC Media Pool
Alex Eala became the first Filipina tennis player in nearly 60 years to win a medal a day earlier, with Patricia Yngayo and Desideria Ampon winning a women's doubles silver in 1966.
Then, the 18-year-old tennis sensation was the first tennis star from the Philippines to win multiple medals in the Asiad since Cecil Mamiit, who won a bronze in the men's singles and doubles in 2006.
This, after she and first-time partner Francis Casey Alcantara settled for a third-place finish in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Friday, September 29.
Eala and Alcantara absorbed a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 sweep over Chinese Taipei's Liang En-shuo and Huang Tsung-hao in the semifinals of the mixed doubles competition to bow out of the gold medal race.
Alcantara, meanwhile, captured his first Asiad medal. Just months ago, the 31-year-old Cagayan de Oro campaigner nabbed his second Southeast Asian Games men's doubles crown, with Ruben Gonzalez, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Before their quarterfinal match against Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum and Maximo Jones, which they ultimately won, Eala came off a stinging 1-6, 7-6 (5), 3-6 loss to world number 23 Zheng Qinwen of China in a more than three-hour battle last September 28.
"First time playing a WTA top 25 player and so proud of putting up a 3 hour long fight," Eala said in her Instagram post. "Disappointed that I won't be placing higher in the singles event, but happy to say I did everything I could."
Despite the tearful end of her admiring journey in the women's singles, Eala shrugged off the disappointment later that day as she and Alcantara, 14th seed, outclassed their 11th-seeded Thai foes.
Unfortunately, their impressive stint ended in the semis with the Taiwanese tandem ensuring they wouldn't see any daylight.
The ninth seeds emerged triumphant in a back-and-forth 12th game in the first set to fend off the embattled Filipinos.
Eala and Alcantara continued to resist in the second set and held a two-all tie with En-shuo and Tsung-hao before the latter pulled away for good to secure their finals spot.
Though not the result they wanted, the Filipino pair gave each other compliments for their share of success in this still glorious moment for the Philippines – which remains in the hunt for its first gold in the continental showpiece.
In an interview with One Sports, Alcantara shared his experience playing alongside Eala for the first time while acknowledging how good their rivals were.
"Very happy with our first time playing together," Alcantara told. "Could've been both sides talaga 'yung match, but kudos to the other team. They played really well from the start."
On her part, Eala shared how easy it was to play doubles with Alcantara, stating the latter's vast experience in this competition.
"It's quite easy to play doubles. I'd say he's a really good leader. Siya talaga mas experienced sa doubles. I tried my best to execute whatever was in his brain," Eala said. "It's so easy to have fun on the court and to play our best when the chemistry is there."
"I chose a good partner." she added.
The two started their 19th Asiad campaign with a lopsided 6-0, 6-0 blanking of Nepal's Sunira Thapa and Pranav Khanal in the second round.
In the round of 16, Eala and Alcantara eliminated top-seeded and India's Ankita Raina and Yuki Bhambri in a grueling three-set war, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8, before facing Kumkhum and Jones of Thailand in the quarterfinal round.

Last Modified: 2023-Oct-08 11.09.36 UTC+0800