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Eala, French partner smash way to glory

MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala added another diadem to her growing treasure chest by collecting a second doubles crown in the pro circuit in France.

Linking up with home bet Estelle Cascino, the Filipina-French duo pulled off a stunning 7-5, 7-6(4) upset of the No. 1 seed pair of Maia Lumsden from Great Britain and another local ace Jessika Ponchet to win the W75 Croissy-Beaubourg in France.

Eala and Cascino erected early big leads – a 3-0 blitz in the first then a 2-0 gap in the second – but the fancied Lumsden, WTA No. 77, and Ponchet, WTA No. 142, fought back before the eventual winners pulled through in one hour and 31 minutes.

The Filipina-French pair, unseeded in the tournament, stared at 4-5 deficits in both sets but carved out gritty escape acts, especially in the tiebreaker of the second frame for the hard-earned straight-sets triumph.

The 18-year-old Eala is ranked No. 171 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) while Cascino, 28, is at No. 146, but proved talented enough to claim the of scalp their higher-ranked and more seasoned foes in the $75,000 tourney.

Eala and Cascino ousted Switzerland’s Celina Naef and India’s Prarthana Thombare, 5-7, 6-2, 10-6, in the opening round, topped the No. 2 duo of Great Britain’s Emily Appleton and the Netherlands’ Isabelle Haverlag, 6-4, 6-0, in the quarterfinals, and drubbed Russian Kira Pavlova and Luxembourg’s Marie Weckerle, 6-3, 6-3, in the semifinals.

Eala captured her first doubles crown last January with Latvian partner Darja Semenistaja in the W50 Pune in India to shore up her promising career marked by four singles titles.

The Filipina sensation is also a holder of two junior doubles Grand Slams in the 2020 Australian Open, with Indonesian pal Priska Madelyn Nugroho, and the 2021 French Open with Russian partner Oksana Selekhmeteva, as well as a junior singles Grand Slam in the 2022 US Open.