Alexandra Eala became the Philippines' first Grand Slam junior champion at the US Open on Saturday, using her "idol" Rafael Nadal for inspiration.
The 17-year-old Filipina defeated French Open girls champion Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
"My idol is obviously Rafa. He's a very good role model, something a lot of people should idolize and try to be," said Eala who is based at the 22-time Grand Slam champion's academy in Spain.
"The biggest thing I notice in Rafa is how he fights till the end, how his thoughts are so clear."
"He's so calm, but at the same time so fired up. I think I really tried to channel that energy during this whole week."
After her win, a tearful Eala took the time to thank those who have been with her since day one, including her family, sponsors, team, and other supporters. She added that her historic feat is not just hers—it belongs to the entire Filipino community. "Buong puso ko itong ipinaglaban, hindi lang para sa sarili ko kung hindi para makatulong din ako sa kinabukasan ng Philippine tennis. So hindi lang ito panalo ko, panalo nating lahat."
— Gang Capati 🇵🇭 (@gangbadoy) September 10, 2022
Eala was playing her first junior tournament since the Orange Bowl in Florida last December.
Since then, she became the first Filipina to both contest and win a WTA main draw match when she defeated Paula Ormaechea at Cluj-Napoca in August.
Eala is already her country's highest-ranked player on the WTA at 297 in the world.
Her brother, 20-year-old Michael, who plays college tennis in the United States, is currently the Philippines' leading man on the ATP, albeit at a lowly 1,506. (AFP)