Rafaella Villanueva reached the quarterfinals in women’s singles to help University of North Georgia finish in the Top 8 of the NCAA Division 2 recently.
The third-year finance major had a sterling career in the age-group circuits, including two stints in the WTA Future Stars in Singapore reserved for top 14-under players.
And she is part of the big wave of promising Filipino tennis players who in the past few years gained athletic scholarships abroad—the highest profile belonging of course to French Open semifinalist Alex Eala, a scholar at Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy.
“I’m very happy to see more Filipinos going to America and play college tennis. Professional tennis is really hard as we all know,” said Filipino top player Francis Casey Alcantara. “Unless you are Alex Eala, who is doing very well.”
Although there are Filipino players who went that route before—including Felix Barrientos and Roland So in Louisiana State University—the trend only began gaining momentum during the time of Alcantara, who played for Pepperdine up until 2012.
“Aside from the talent, I think they (US schools) consider the … intelligence of these players; for one, Filipinos speak English very well and we have a similar education system as theirs,” said Villanueva’s father, Randy.
He said depending on the school, a scholarship is worth between $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
At present, among the Filipino age-group stalwarts who are under scholarships are Maia Balce who is in Fordham for a journalism degree, Roxanne Resma (University of Hawaii), Khim Iglupas (University of Arizona) and Marcus del Rosario (Southeast Oklahoma State).
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.