Sorry, Alex

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde (The Freeman) - October 29, 2020 - 12:00am

After the Roland Garros red mud settled the other week, I wrote about the greatest clay court player in history, and last week about the greatest basketball player of his generation. I just can’t miss to chronicle defining moments of their career.

Of course I followed Alex Eala, the 15-year old Filipina who reached the semi-finals of the girls division at the French Open. Awesome. But not surprising. The tennis prodigy trains at a tennis academy owned by the god of clay who is so pleased with what she unleashed. Earlier she warned world tennis about impending Filipino invasion with her breakthrough doubles win at the first grand slam of the year down under.

But for some reason, fans are not as warm to doubles as they are to singles, even if they desperately seek their partner in life. Except probably when the partner is a compatriot. Even Fil-Am Treat Huey is not exactly treated the way he should be despite his relative success in grand slam doubles. Tennis is a glamour sport. There should only be one king or queen. Steve Harvey learned about this the hard way.

It’s like a battle half won, a victory shared with a bitter half. Look at the bleachers during doubles matches, almost empty even before corona. Ironic, more people play doubles than singles worldwide, especially here where tennis courts are a dying arena and players are forced to contest an eight game single set doubles match to share play time with others. Filipino ingenuity rewrites rules. 

But despite her loss to a home bet, Alex booked her place in history. She is now second in the world junior tennis rankings. While I’m excited about her future, I also fear she might be lost in transition to women’s tour. Some junior standouts found it hard to segue to the next level. But the gritty cute little thing knows what she wants and knows how to get it. She is focused, with steely nerves strengthened by her supportive parents.

In this country, some champions are products of parental guidance rather than of a sports program. Others paternal. Lydia de Vega was trained and disciplined to excellence by her strict father. Of course Gintong Alay made her run faster. But aside from her innate speed, she was already continental fast to begin with.

 While I did not write about you right away Alex, you already rewrote history. I said rewrite, not revise. Rewriting happens when a great achievement eclipses a good one, courtesy of national treasures. Revising is when the dark truth from the past is sanitized to look immaculately bright, at the instance of national traitors.

Your feat, and feet, stand with or without my redundant boring commentary. But please understand the two guys I wrote about before you are at the peak of their stellar career. Soon both should leave their sport before it leaves them. But you cute little thing, fresh and promising, still have so much to play and live for. But I apologize for my omission and twisted sense of athletic patriotism just the same. Even then, I have been sleeping well at night knowing that others owe you a bigger apology.

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