Rafaella Villanueva

Rafaella Villanueva
Submitted Photo by Rafaella Villanueva

Rafaella Villanueva is a Filipina, tennis player. Villanueva has been competing on the ITF Junior Circuit since 2013. She has been ranked world No.1111(as of July 24, 2017) on the women’s ITF Junior Circuit. She reached the doubles semi-finals of the ITF Ho Chi Minh in July 2017. She also was a doubles quarter-finalist in ITF Phinma Manila in November 2017.

Throughout Villanueva’s junior career, she was a member of the Philippine national team which competed in the ITF World Juniors Tennis Competition in Kuching, Malaysia in 2013 where the team finished 8th place out of 32 countries and continued in New Delhi, India in 2014 where the team finished 14th place out of 32 states. That same year, she represented the Philippines in the 16 and under category in the prestigious WTA Future Stars Event held in Singapore.

Rafaella (Rafa), was part of the Philippine national team which competed in the Junior Southeast Asian Games held in Singapore where the team won the bronze medal in the 14 and under category in 2014 and the following year won the bronze medal in the 16 and under division. While in 2016, Villanueva led the Philippine national team to win the 3rd place in the Junior Federation Cup Pre-Qualifying Event which held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she played the #1 ranked singles spot and emerged undefeated.

Bio Info.
Name: Rafaella Villanueva
Age: 18
Height: 5’5
Weight: 118 lbs.
Current Residence: Alabang, Muntinlupa
Local career record:
(PHILTA 18-under: #3
(PHILTA 16-under: #1
(PHILTA 14-under: #1
(PHILTA 12-under: #1
International career record: ITF Juniors World ranking: #1111 (as of July 24, 2017)
Shoes: Yonex
Racket: Yonex
Plays: Right-handed (double-handed backhand)

Rafaella Villanueva has given PhilTennis the opportunity to interview her regarding her life as a student-athlete as she pursues her tennis career while balancing her studies as a competitive student.

Q: How did you balance your time being an athlete and at the same time a student?

Answer: Being a student-athlete entails that being a “student” comes before being an
“athlete.” These means that I cannot neglect my duties as a student regardless of the amount of time being an athlete requires. I can balance my training, fitness, tournaments, and school work through managing my time properly and maintaining a disciplined work ethic.


Rafaella “Rafa” Villanueva started playing tennis when she was seven years old.

Playing tennis was an accident for me because one day when I was seven years old, my badminton coach canceled on my training that day and I was already at the club, so my dad asked me if I wanted to try tennis. I did and I in an instant I fell in love with the sport. I decided to pursue it because it was the sport I enjoyed the most among all the others that I tried namely swimming, gymnastics, and badminton.

Villanueva claimed her first national champion title under the 12 under girls singles category at 11 years old at the Tru-Flex National Age-Group in 2011 sanctioned by Philippine Tennis Academy(PHILTA).

Villanueva’s recent local achievements under the new Unified Tennis Philippines (UTP) ranking system include her championship title under the 18 under girls category in the Cebuana Lhuillier Age-Group Tennis Championship at Orchard Golf & Tennis Country Club, Dasmariñas, Cavite. She also emerged runner-up in the 18 and under girls category and a quarterfinalist in the Women’s Open Singles category in the Palawan Pawnshop-Fr. Fernando Suarez Cup held in CSA Bulacan last January 13-20, 2018.

In the year 2012 and 2013 Villanueva claimed the regional school competition gold medallist at the NCR Palaro. However, Villanueva refused to represent NCR in the Palarong Pambansa because she prioritized to play for the Philippine national team in the ITF World Juniors Tennis Competition held in Kuching Malaysia.

Afterward, Villanueva continued competing in international junior tournaments as she won her first global doubles title at the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand (LTAT) 14 and under tennis tournament in Bangkok, Thailand in 2014.

Villanueva continued her junior tennis success not only in international tournaments but also local grade school events.

→ Philippine Athletic Youth Association 2013-2017 – Champion team event for De La Salle
→ Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association 2013-2017 – Champion (team event for De La Salle
→ Inter-School Tennis Association (ISTA) – Champion 2013-2017


Rafaella Villanueva unveils her most memorable experiences as of today’s accomplishments of her tennis career.

She quoted:
Playing for the Philippines in the 16 and under category in the first WTA Future Stars
Tournament held in Singapore 2014 at 14 years old was my greatest memorable experience as I was the youngest to compete in the 16 under a category for that tournament. Apart from that, I got to meet the top 8 ranked players in the world and Serena Williams gave me her racket and signed it. It was my most memorable experience because I got a taste of what it felt like to be a top WTA player with all the amenities the tournament provided us with.

Among my accomplishments, to me, the biggest would be playing for the Philippines
in the Junior Federation Cup held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2016. I deem it the biggest
because I was able to win all my singles matches playing at the #1 ranked spot, beating the highest ranked players from all the other nations I competed against. This was also one of my favorite tournaments because I was able to win matches where I was initially losing by a significant margin, upset higher ranked players, and most importantly give glory to my country. said continue)

→ Have you experienced a downfall time of your tennis career?
Answer: Several times throughout my junior career I have experienced rough patches. Even if they sometimes seem to stay rough permanently, I manage to get through them. Enduring, getting through, and learning from them has strengthened me as a person and as a player.

→ Biggest Challenges, How to manage it?
Ever since I was younger, my biggest challenge in tennis has always been handling my
nerves when I play.

However, as I got older, I realized that “Pressure is a privilege.” (a quote from Billie Jean King) she quoted.

I realized that having the pressure of having to defend my abilities is a blessing because I get to play the sport at a kind of level where at times I have the upper hand. Although I have gotten stronger at fighting this challenge, I believe I am still learning how to ultimately overcome it, which to me is a good thing because it means I still have more potential to become a better player mentally, physically, and tactically. She continued.

→ Self Motivation and Inspiration, while playing tennis.
My end goals are what motivate me to play tennis. The combination of pressure,
excitement, and adrenaline fuel me to overcome doubts and push to fight in the match
with my end goals at the back of my mind. Rafa Nadal and Li Na are the people who give me hope and inspire me to pursue tennis.

→ Personal Motto

“Pressure is a privilege.” – Billie Jean King.

Villanueva’s Top 5 Secret Words for Filipino Next Tennis Player to Become a Champion.
→ Put God at the center of whatever you do.
→ Know your goals.
→ Make a doable action plan for your purposes.
→ Train hard.
→ Trust the process.

Rafaella Villanueva who has been a Filipina tennis player for the past ten years will continue to raise the PH banner and make her country proud in all her tournaments locally and internationally.

Local Girls Career Records

Date Location Country Foe’s Surface Match Score Result

ITF Women’s Career Records

Date Location Country Foe’s Surface Match Score Result