TEEN tennis phenom Alex Eala rallied from a first-set loss late Wednesday night to stun Romania’s Laura Ioana-Parr 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-1 in the second round of the $60,000 International Tennis Federation Bellinzona tournament in Switzerland.
Eala hurdled her opening round match last Monday, beating Frenchwoman Margot Yerolymos 7-6 (6-4), 6-2 at the Bellinzona clay court.
Apparently lulled into complacency by that easy win, she squandered a 4-2 lead in the first set, allowing Parr, No. 206 in the World Tennis Association ratings to the Filipina’s No. 715, to win four of the next five games and gain the upperhand at 6-5.
The Pinay netter managed to level the set at 6-all by breaking the veteran Romanian, who has won 13 singles and 53 doubles title on the ITF circuit, in the 12th set to pave the way for the tiebreak.
Paar surged to a 0-3 lead before the left-handed Eala fought back to knot the count at 6-all, only to yield the set after dropping two straight points in the set that lasted over 30 minutes.
The first-set setback served as Eala’s wake-up call as she thoroughly dominated her rival in the next two sets, setting up a third-round clash against hometown bet Simona Waltert, who slipped past Germany’s Antonia Lottner 3-6, 7-6 (6-4), 6-4.
It was the second straight win by Eala over Paar, who also lost to the Filipina netter 3-6, 6-4, 4-6 in the ITF $25,000 tournament in Grenoble, France last February.