Loretto, PA -- Head coach Paul Tobin has announced that Rafaela Panizza will join the Saint Francis University women's tennis team in the fall. Panizza is the second new commitment to the Red Flash program, joining Danielle Gryckiewicz who signed in November.
“We are very excited to have such a talented player as a part of our growing women's program,” said Tobin, who enters his third season at SFU in 2012-13. “Rafaela was born on the tennis court in a region that produces great talent.”
Panizza started playing tennis at age seven and by age 16 was ranked no. 4 in Sao Paulo. Today she holds the no. 1 spot in the city's girls' 18U rankings. Panizza has qualified for WTA Futures events and reached a Brazilian ranking in the top 50. She recently beat the no. 1 player in Brazil to earn a “Junior Player to Watch” designation for 2012.
Prior to her jaunt to Loretto this fall, Rafaela continue to train 5-to-6 days per week in Jundiaí at the prestigious Kimtenis Academy with renowned coaches Kim Ruas Carrero and Fabricio Eburneo.
Rafaela is from Jundiai, Brazil and has one brother, Renato. She is the daughter of Ana Cristina Orenga and Oscar Panizza, Jr.
“I chose SFU because of its strong academics and that it cares a lot about its students and athlete,” said Panizza. “My tennis goals as a part of the Red Flash team are to be no. 1 and to improve as much possible. I want to help my team win a conference championship.”