Riza Zalameda, a rising star in the coaching ranks and winner of a national championship as a student-athlete, was named the new head women’s tennis coach at Seton Hall University on July 20, 2016. Zalameda, a 2008 graduate of UCLA, steps into her first head coaching position after serving four years as the assistant women’s tennis coach at Columbia University, where she helped lead the Lions to two NCAA Tournament appearances.
“We are very excited to have Coach Zalameda join the Seton Hall family and begin mentoring our student-athletes,” Director of Athletics Pat Lyons said. “She is a national championship winning athlete with a history of success throughout her career both on the court and as a coach, which makes her an invaluable resource for our student-athletes, who are striving for excellence in everything they do. We look forward to watching her help elevate our tennis program and compete for BIG EAST championships.”
During Zalameda’s tenure at Columbia working under head coach Ilene Weintraub, the Lions compiled a 54-27 dual match record and appeared in the NCAA Championships two out of her four years with the squad, including the program’s first-ever NCAA at-large bid in 2014. Most recently, the Lions finished the 2016 campaign ranked No. 37 in the nation and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Under Zalameda’s eye, Columbia senior Kanika Vaidya earned a spot in the 2016 NCAA Singles Women’s Tennis Tournament. Vaidya went 19-1 in No. 1 singles during the regular season and finished the season ranked No. 43 in the ITA singles rankings.
“I am absolutely honored and humbled to become part of the Seton Hall family,” Zalameda said. “Not only is this first-class institution progressing in everything that it does, the people here are wonderful and are continuously motivating each other to keep getting better. I really wanted to be a part of that.
“I want to immensely thank Pat Lyons and Rachelle Paul for the opportunity to set new standards for the women's tennis program and add to the list of incredible feats this department will accomplish. I also want to express gratitude to my family, friends and Columbia Athletics for supporting me in this big step in my professional career. It is my hope that our tennis program enhances the student-athlete experience and grooms champions in the classroom, on the court, and in life.”
Before accepting the assistant position at Columbia, Zalameda spent four years on the WTA tour, playing in all four major tournaments. She achieved a top-100 ranking in doubles and has two ITF singles titles to go along with six doubles titles on the women’s circuit. Zalameda also won five medals at the Southeast Asian Games while representing the Philippines.
Prior to her professional career, Zalameda was one of the most highly decorated players in UCLA women’s tennis history. In her four-year career with the Bruins, she was an eight-time ITA Division I All-American in singles and doubles.
Zalameda led the Bruins to their first-ever NCAA team championship in 2008, clinching the 4-0 win with a victory in the No. 1 singles spot over Susie Babos of Cal. After guiding the Bruins to a national title, Zalameda went on to win the NCAA Doubles Championship and finished the year with partner Tracy Lin as the top-ranked team in the nation.
Zalameda was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 2008 while also being honored as the ITA Doubles Team of the Year with Lin. She also earned ITA National Senior Player of the Year to go along with Pac-10 Player of the Year after winning conference championships in both singles and doubles. A standout in the classroom, she also was the Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Zalameda retired from professional tennis in 2011 due to injury and returned to school to finish her education, pursuing her master’s degree in contemporary global ethics and human values at the University of London King’s College School of Law.
A native of Beverly Hills, Calif., Zalameda graduated from UCLA in 2008, and attended Beverly Hills High School, where she was named the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year in her final season.