Ask The Bruins - Riza Zalameda
 Riza Zalameda
UCLA coaches and athletes will be on hand throughout the year to answer your questions in our "Ask the Bruins" Q&A sessions.

This week's featured guest is women's tennis player Riza Zalameda. Her answers are below.

Vicky: Out of all the places (particularly countries) you've played in, which was the favorite and why?
Riza: I especially like Melbourne, Australia. I played there with the U.S. Team at the Maureen Connolly Brinker Cup (a U16s event in 2003). We beat Team Australia in the finals. I just really liked the laid back atmosphere there. And the people were really nice too.

Andrew (philadelphia, PA): Hi Riza! I was just wondering what your plans were after college...whether you're gonna turn pro or if you are going to pursue other interests.
Riza: I'm going to give the professional tour a try. I feel like that is the next step in my tennis career. I hope to play singles and doubles in all the grand slams, and hopefully break into the top-50 at some point.

Elias (Fairfield, CA): How old were you when you started playing tennis? What advice would you give to young players starting out in the sport who aspire to play in college or the pros?
Riza: I began playing tennis at the age of five. My dad was a tennis player who had a professional background. So I would say that it's important to have a good coach and a good support system if you want to go far in tennis.

Ashley/Chino Hills: Do you enjoy all the travelling that is involved being a UCLA tennis player?
Riza: Yes I do. I think the difference from traveling alone on the tour and traveling with the UCLA team is that it's not as lonely and much more fun. You also have more support being on the team so that is a positive aspect as well.

Cortez hollywood: Is your goal after school is to make it to the pros if everything goes well ? because as far as i know there is no filipina thats ranked in the pros. Good luck !
Riza: Yes I agree that there are no highly-ranked Filipinas on the tour right now. That's why it is my goal to be one of the first!

Daniel (Los Angeles): Do you model your tennis game after anyone in particular?
Riza: I'd say my game is modeled from a mixture of Roger Federer and Justine Henin-Hardenne. I love Roger's fluidity and creativity. I admire Justine's tenacity and fitness level.

rob: How are you doing in Anthro 33?
Riza: I'm doing pretty well and studying for the final on Thursday.

Daniel (LA): What is going through your mind when you are playing players from other schools that are known to be really good, how do you calm yourself down to get down to business?
Riza: When it comes to playing highly-ranked players, I know that I'm going to have to raise my level. I calm myself down by remembering how hard I practice and how much work we put in. This reassures me that everything will come into place. I remember to just play.

miami: HI RIZA How does it feel to be the #1 singles player and is there a lot's of pressure to do great as the #1 player
Riza: There is definitely more pressure being No. 1 in general, regardless of the sport. However, I feel like I've worked hard to be in that position and it keeps me working even harder to stay at the top.

Jon Jon (Carson): Have you ever considered representing the Philippines at team events like Fed Cup or the Olympics?
Riza: I have no idea right now. Maybe in the future when I'm on the pro circuit. It would be a fun experience. It's a tough decision because I have represented the U.S. my entire career.

dennis los angeles: congratulations on your win in manila. Can you please tell me about this tournament in the Philippines ? Was this tournament open to anyone or of filipino descent only ?
Riza: I played an ITF women's event where I won both singles and doubles. This event was open to anyone. However, I also competed in the SEA (SouthEast Asian) Games and that was only for people who had citizenship in Southeast Asia.

jojo los angeles: You had a great freshmen career and made if pretty far in the championshiops. Now as a sophmore do you think more of your opponents are aware of who your are and does it means more pressure for you to have another great year since your playing at the 1 position?
Riza: I agree that more players know more about me and my game because it's such a different style that many players haven't seen before. However, I'm much more experienced this year as opposed to last year so even though they know my game, I'm still very confident that I can have the same success.

LG (Los Angeles): Riza, how does it feel to have such a cool doubles partner?
Riza: My dear LG. You are the best doubles player anyone can ask for. Your serve is huge and your forehand is ridiculous.

Ali (Tarzana): Hey Riza...I am a HUGE Bruin Fan. I have a unrelated tennis question. What nationality are you? Thanks and good luck to you and your Bruin teammates!!!!
Riza: I'm three quarters Filipino and one quarter Portuguese.

Victor (Vicksburg, MS): What advice would you give to someone trying to improve their serve?
Riza: I would tell someone who is trying to improve their serve to watch the pros and try to emulate what they do as much as possible. That's the best advice I can give.

Ilinca (Orange): What were your other college choices if you wouldn't of went to UCLA?
Riza: I went on a recruiting trip to Washington, however UCLA was my first choice so I didn't look at many other schools.

Alexandra (Orange): What's the best thing about UCLA?
Riza: The best thing about UCLA is that it's in Los Angeles. I love the campus. Our athletic training facilities are some of the best in the nation. In addition to being a great athletic school, it is very challenging academically as well. The professors really make an effort to reach out to each individual and make sure we leave with more knowledge than when we arrived.

Roger F.: How does it feel to be the female version of me? xoxo
Riza: It's a compliment that you said that because I feel like I'm so far away from being like Roger. Is this Tracy Lin? If it is, I love your slice backhand.

Ricky (Cypress): How would you describe the type of player you are. Are you more of a power or finesse player?
Riza: I'd say I'm a mixture of both. I can't be as powerful as I would like because I'm not as big as say someone like Maria Sharapova. So often times I have to rely on my finesse. Because I'm an all-court player, I need a lot of variety in terms of speed and the direction of the ball.

Clifton (Los Angeles): I notice you have one of the best one-handed backhands in women's college tennis. My question is, which grip do you use on the return of serve?
Riza: Before my opponent serves, I start out using a continental grip. I then change to a forehand grip (semi-western) or a backhand grip (eastern) depending on where the ball goes.

Andrew (Las Vegas): Hi Riza, Big Bruin fan here in Vegas but I didn't get a chance to catch you while you were out here at UNLV. Who are you biggest Tennis influences and what do you do in your free time?
Riza: By far, my biggest influence in tennis is my dad. He is my coach, my biggest fan and my confidant. In my free time away from the game I study...and maybe socialize a little bit too.

OC Bruin: Congratulations to you and our team for wonderfully representing UCLA; we are proud of you! 2 questions-- 1. Any thoughts on what might get our Women's Tennis team "over the top" to finally grab an NCAA title? We have been so close. 2. Do you appreciate "rowdy" and noisey fan support (of course, "jeering" and noisey from the other fans) in the college tennis setting or do you prefer quieter, more traditional tennis fans? Thanks!
Riza: I think if we keep working as hard as we are right now and play with faith in each other, that will get us really far. I wouldn't guarantee that we will dominate, but I'm confident that this team is going to have a lot of success. In terms of atmosphere, I definitely like extremely vocal fans because they keep us pumped up and motivated to keep fighting.

Sarah Gallagher (Anch-Town): Do you like Ashley Joelson's new hair???
Riza: At first it was odd, but now I'm beginning to see how it fits her personality. I mean she really is the only one who could pull that off. I think black hair looks pretty on white girls.

angel: Who was your biggest rival or toughest to play against in the juniors?
Riza: One of the rivals that instantly come to mind is Lindsey Nelson from USC. I'm playing her next weekend so come cheer me on!

Isaac (Westwood): Riza, do you ever get the chance to hit with any current professional players? If so, who? There have been Serena sightings in Westwood (Whole Foods and Ralph's).
Riza: I have practiced with a bunch of pros. I got the chance to hit with Andre Agassi two years ago. Other than that, I've played with Amanda Coetzer, Lilia Osterloh, Renee Stubbs and Rauno Pascual to name a few. I've not had the chance to hit with Serena, but I'd like to. I really, really want to hit with Roger Federer.

Amanda Zalameda: How do you play tennis that good? Who is your coach?:)
Riza: Hi Amanda. Well, you have to practice a lot and listen to your coach. Especially your sisters!

Stephen (Pops) Acuna: First let me say I am a huge UCLA fan! Have been since I was 6 months old and my 5 year old son is named Bruin Acuna. I love the Bruins! Congrats on being the #1 player for the greatest University. Which do you prefer playing, singles or doubles and why?
Riza: That's a tough question. It's hard to say because I have fun playing both. However, if I had to pick I'd say doubles. It's where I have more experience and have enjoyed the most success.

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