Riza Zalameda understands the fundamental differences between being a tennis player and a coach.
The 30-year-old had a standout college career on the court at the University of California, Los Angeles, capped by winning an NCAA doubles championship and leading the Bruins to the program’s first national title in 2008.
A shoulder injury curtailed a successful venture into professional tennis by 2011, but it also opened the door to the coaching ranks. In 2012, Zalameda became an assistant coach at Columbia University-Barnard College, where the Lions won their first Ivy League championship in 2013 and made two appearances in the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships. She recently assumed head coaching duties at Seton Hall University.
“As a player you are introspective, and you have to be selfish in a way,” Zalameda said. “As a coach, you understand the skill is about your ability to communicate things that will help the player be successful. It becomes a more outward experience.”
Zalameda graduated from UCLA with a degree in cultural anthropology and, before taking the job at Columbia, she earned a master’s degree in contemporary global ethics and human values at the University of London-King’s College London.
“I’m curious about human beings, and why we do the things we do,” said Zalameda, who was hired by Seton Hall July 20. “I’m interested in how we take our space, how we use our language and develop our attitudes and belief systems.”
Zalameda believes all of her experiences have prepared her to mentor her players both on and off the court.
“I’ll be coaching student-athletes, and I know I have to be mindful of their time,” she said. “They have commitments to their academics and social life. They are young adults, and it is exciting to be involved with them at this point in their lives.”