HANGZHOU, China—Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara closed out a great run in the 19th Asian Games with a bronze medal in tennis mixed doubles on Friday.
The Filipino aces gamely fought for one hour and 37 minutes at the sun-baked Hangzhou Olympic Sports Tennis Centre before Chinese Taipei’s Liang En-shuo and Huang Tsung-hao pulled off a 7-5, 6-3 victory and progressed to the gold-medal match.
“It’s only a bronze, but we’re super happy. Look, I’m getting goosebumps. You can just imagine if we could have gotten the silver or even the gold,’’ said Alcantara after the national tennis squad wrapped up its campaign with a pair of bronzes here.
Eala earlier grabbed the first podium finish in a marathon semifinal contest where Chinese top seed Zheng Qinwen prevailed.
“I got to learn new things and I was exposed a lot. I enjoyed the experience so much,’’ said the 18-year-old Eala, the first double-medal performer for the country in these Games.
This pair of bronzes matched the podium finishes of Cecil Mamiit in men’s singles during the 2006 Doha edition and the latter’s partnership with Eric Taino in men’s doubles.
Although they missed the finals, Alcantara, a two-time Southeast Asian Games men’s double gold medalist, will be all-pumped up going into a couple of International Tennis Federation tournaments within the host country.
“I’m going to Guangzhou on Sunday and play there for three days before proceeding to Shenzhen for two weeks, so I’ll still be here in China learning a lot of Chinese,’’ said the 31-year-old Alcantara, a regular ITF campaigner in Asia. “This bronze will definitely increase my confidence.’’
As for the world No. 192-rated Eala, the Filipino prodigy who won the girls’ singles US Open title is heading back to Spain to resume her bid in the European circuit while she aims to jump further up in the rankings.
“I’ll be going back to Spain, train a little bit, but I still have no idea what my schedule will look like after that,’’ said Eala.
The tandem of Eala and Alcantara rewarded Team Philippines its sixth bronze near the halfway mark of these Games with still no gold medal to show.
Sanda fighter Arnel Mandal clinched the lone silver medal for the Philippine delegation on Thursday.