ABOVE AND beyond their love for tennis, both teen ace Alex Eala and pro player Lizette Cabrera are hoping their international tennis journeys continue to inspire young Pinays as they continue to make waves in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tours.
Fifteen-year-old Eala is a proud bearer of the Philippine flag in several pro tournaments. Meanwhile, Cabrera, currently ranked No. 141 in the WTA, represents Australia, but happily acknowledges her Filipino roots.
The daughter of two full-blooded Pinoys, she's proud of her Pinoy descent.
Cabrera is beyond gratified to watch Eala from afar, seeing the young netter carving her own path in the pros.
"I have been following her progress. She's definitely going to do damage when she plays more matches in the pro," Cabrera said of Eala.
Not a lot of Filipinos make it to the WTA, so she's delighted to see a younger Pinay stamp her mark. She's also looking forward to meeting her, as she believes they both share a goal even deeper than the game itself.
Alex is entering her fifth tournament this week. Earlier in January, she clinched her first pro maiden title in the first leg of W15 Manacor.
"Hopefully, we get to play doubles together — showcase Filipinos and what we bring to the table," Cabrera said. "At 15, she's at [that level], she could only go up from there."
Eala, who began joining the pro last year, is currently at No. 763 in the WTA, and No. 3 in the International Tennis Federation Juniors.
As someone with years of pro experience under her belt, Cabrera has some advice for Eala.
"Just focus on your journey, surround yourself with the right people. Enjoy it. You'll never know when your breakthrough's going to come, just keep working hard," she said.
What does she mean about the "right people"?
For a tennis player, that means honing your game with the right competition, even just for practices. Cabrera points, for example, to World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. She occasionally practices with her in Brisbane.
"We live in the same city and we get to train together. I love training with her, she's so good to practice with. I try to match my tennis with the best, and see what I can do better, and what I can learn from them," she shared.
"Just really surround yourself with the right people."