Two new PH teenage tennis stars on the rise
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
IF you are really a sports lover, like me, you should know who is Leylah Fernandez and Alex Eala in the world of tennis. They are indubitably the latest Philippine teenage lawn tennis sensations and I believe that based on their latest performances, someday soon these two world athletes of ours will be the world’s newest tennis superstars.
Fernandez, 19, born in Canada with Ilocana mother named Irene Xevaria and Ecuadorian father, Jorge Fernandez, just launched her world status to prominence despite being ranked 73rd in the tennis world by ousting the top seeded and reigning U.S. Open titlist Naomi Osaka of Japan, second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, and fifth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine to reach the championship match.
Unfortunately, Fernandez was beaten by 18-year-old British Emma Raducanu in two straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Raducanu who capped her ascend from 150th ranked in the world to win a Grand Slam championship.
The U.S. Open title unexpectedly turned to be the battle of new teenage titans for the first time in the history of U.S. Open. Records also say that Raducanu is the second youngest Grand Slam winner after 17-year-old Maria Sharapova of Russia won the Wimbledon Open in 2004. The Briton likewise holds the distinction being the only second woman ranked outside the top 100 to win the U.S. Open final after Kim Clijsters of Belgium who won in 2009.
Although Fernandez represented as a Canadian, having been born in Montreal in Quebec province, the brown-skinned Fernandez looks more Filipina than Ecuadorian, and proud to be a half-Filipina. Fernandez appears not to have been fully exposed to Philippine culture, so she is curious about her Philippine roots especially the Filipino foods and our lingo Tagalog.
“I know the language, it’s very hard… it was the language Tagalog, it was super complicated and I didn’t understand any one word,” she quipped when she was interviewed by world press. Hmm, that surprised and puzzled me knowing that her father is from Ecuador, a Latino country, who speaks fluent Spanish. I believe she understands Spanish, even assuming she cannot speak Spanish at all. But hundreds of our Filipino words are rooted in Spanish lingo like sapatos, medias, cadena, cuchillo, tocayo, tenedor, ventilador, azucar, barbero, testamento, cambio, goma, todo, coche, puerta, lavajeta, sombrero, relo, arena, pantalon, ventana, sala, asentado, motorciclo, bicicleta, grifo, norte, sur, oeste, aguinaldo, abogado, maestro, viaje, adios, adelantado, lavavo, baño, ayuda, toalla, periodico, gasolina, silla,mesa, plato, bombilla, bola, llave, cueva, numero, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, etc.
These sixty Spanish words should be easy to understand even to us Filipinos. Remember, Canada which is one of the melting pots of the world like the United States, have French, Filipinos, Americans (fronted by its neighbor Alaska), and Latinos headed by Mexicans. So, I don’t see why Fernandez doesn’t understand a single Filipino word like she said. Maybe just a slip of the tongue?
About Eala, like Fernandez, is definitely a megastar in world tennis in the making. She first won the 2020 Australian Open Junior Grand Slam Doubles and the 2021 French Open Junior Grand Slam Doubles at young age of 15 and 16 years old, respectively. The five-foot-nine lanky Eala also reached her best foray in single division as a semifinalist in the 2020 French Open Junior category.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God. DEUTERONOMY 22: 5
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