Alex Eala and Carlyn Guarde fashioned out victories in contrasting fashions to set the pace in the first Cebuana Lhuillier WTA Future Stars Qualifiers at the Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig on Friday.
Eala, one of the country’s fast-rising stars, dominated Bliss Bayking, 6-0, 6-1, in the 14-and-under division while Guarde survived Aubrey Calma, 6-3, 7-6, in a tiebreak thriller in the 16-U category of the three-day event which will select the Philippines’ representatives to the WTA Future Stars tournament in Singapore next month.
In the other completed tie in the 14-U side, Sydney Enriquez held off Kiana de Asis, 6-3, 7-6, in another tiebreak in the event which drew the country’s top junior players.
The first exclusive WTA Future Stars qualifiers is sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association with the winners in the two-division event clinching berths in the Singapore meet where they will be pitted against the region’s leading juniors.
“We’ve been sending representatives to the WTA tournament for years, but this is the first time that we’re actually having an exclusive pre-qualifier competition here since we want to send no less than the best players in the country,” said Philta chairman and Cebuana Lhuillier president and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier.
“The WTA commends Cebuana Lhuillier for its effort in organizing a national tournament for the Philippines’ top junior players. It is with such support that an initiative like the WTA Future Stars can fulfill its maximum potential to encourage the next generation to pursue their passion in tennis,” said Melissa Pine, vice president of WTA Asia-Pacific and tournament director of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore.
Aside from the qualifiers, the WTA Future Stars Clinic for kids was also held in conjunction with WTA’s grassroots development program aimed at introducing the sport to less-privileged communities.