May 26, 2005
Athens, Ga. - Freshman tennis player Riza Zalameda is just two wins away from becoming the first UCLA singles player to capture an NCAA title since 1996, upsetting second-seeded Julie Coin of Clemson in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Zalameda, unseeded in the 64-player draw, posted a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 decision over Coin, a player she also eliminated from the NCAA doubles draw a day earlier with teammate Daniela Bercek. Zalameda will next face Northwestern's Audra Cohen, the tournament's No. 3 seed, in a battle of two of the top freshmen in the nation. Cohen and Zalameda know each other well, capturing the doubles title at the Girls' 18s National Championships in 2004. The duo earned main draw acceptance to the U.S. Open following that victory. Friday's other semifinal features Baylor's Zuzana Zemenova and fifth-seeded Jennifer Magley of Florida.
"I just wanted to make a run in this tournament," said Zalameda, who is trying to become the first UCLA singles player to win a title at the NCAAs since Keri Phebus accomplished the feat in 1996. "I never expected to make the semis. I have really exceeded my own expectations. When I won the first round match it really boosted my confidence. In the first two rounds I didn't play the way I know I can. Today was different. I think the struggle in the first two rounds really helped me in my match today. I think the next round is going to be all mental. But I feel that I can make up for that with my game."
In the doubles draw, fourth-seeded Zalameda and teammate Daniela Bercek were upset on Thursday. The duo fell to Stanford's Amber Liu/Anne Yelsey, 6-3, 6-0.
The NCAA Championships can be followed at the University of Georgia's website GEORGIADOGS.COM