When Jenaila Rose Prulla lost to Marian Jade Capadocia in the 2019 Philippine Columbian Association Open finals, she was just a wide-eyed, reed-thin 14-year-old newbie aspiring to make it big someday.
That day came Sunday, Oct. 30.
Taller, bigger and more experienced now, Prulla came roaring back with a vengeance and unseated the seven-time champion, 6-3, 7-6 (3), to complete what she had dream for three years in the 39th PCA Open Tennis Championships at its Plaza Dilao indoor shell court.
The 17-year-old San Jose del Monte, Bulacan native displayed incredible grit she matched with a newly armed prowess borne out her devotion to getting fitter and stronger.
Never mind that the top-seeded, 27-year-old Capadocia fell to cramps in the second set tiebreaker, stood up and tried one last time to turn the tide in her favor but to no avail.
“First and foremost, I improved my fitness so I could have more power and I also had more confidence and courage now compared to the last time when we played,” said Prulla.
“I didn’t feel scared because a lot of people inspired me,” she added.
For her feat, Prulla will become part of the club’s folklore as one if its champions while pocketing the top purse worth P100,000 courtesy of Smart/PLDT, official ball Dunlop, Manila councilor Jong Isip, San Jose Salt, W. L. Food Products, Palawan Pawnshop and Pagcor.
For Capadocia, she consoled herself with a P50,000 runner-up purse with hope of regaining her old place at the pedestal and getting another crack at a record eight championship.
But for now, it will be Prulla who earned the right to bask in glory and build a dynasty of her own.
After dropping the first set and trailing, 4-3, in the second, Capadocia fought back and even came a point away from claiming the set and forcing deciding third set where anything can happen.
Prulla, however, didn’t allow it.
In the tiebreaker, Capadocia was up, 3-1, but again, Prulla struck back and knotted it at 3-3.
The beginning of the end came when Capadocia’s forehand return went awry and hit the net that gave Prulla a 4-3 lead.
Worse, the two-time Southeast Asian Games bronze winner fell as her right leg started stiffening, resulting to her being slapped with a warning first and eventually a point penalty for delay of match.
Capadocia tried to fight through it but she didn’t pack her shots with the same power as before and was just helpless against Prulla’s booming forehands.