Tipsy Tennis with Riza Zalameda
How did Tipsy Tennis originate?
Riza: "While teaching tennis on Necker Island, I designed my version of tipsy tennis for guests to celebrate their time together and create a fun, inclusive environment. At the same time, I wanted to make the games quirky, exciting, and doable for everyone. I felt it was more important to focus on the EXPERIENCE rather than winning. However, everyone does get competitive, even over a shot of tequila! Not everyone drinks alcohol (which is great!), so we have loads of delicious and fresh mock-tails on as well. So, my goal is to engage players of all levels and ages on one court, running around, laughing like they are kids again."
Tell us more about you! Where did you grow up? What is most important to you? What are your hobbies and passions outside of tennis?
Riza: "I grew up in Los Angeles and learned how to play tennis as soon as I could stand because my dad was a tennis pro, too. He wasn’t famous or anything, but he just loved it so much that he taught himself how to play at the local parks, then found a knack for connecting with people, and people loved him so much that he became a teaching pro. So, I think I get much of my passion, knowledge, and personality from him!"
"What’s unique about my origin story, in my opinion, is that even though I was very serious about my tennis, I attended a public high school, played on the girls' varsity team and Ace’d my classes, I had a balanced (tennis-focused) life, which was really important for my family and me."
"I then went on to play D1 college tennis at UCLA on a full athletic scholarship before playing professionally full-time. I think too many young athletes (say young girls for example) do themselves more harm by going “all in” so young and miss out on the normal developmental stages to adulthood. That means learning how to interact with peers and elders, learning about life outside the court, and, most importantly, learning to identify and communicate their emotions."
"So, now I spend time mentoring young women tennis players (from highschool to post grad) and give them guidance where I can be of help, whether it's how to get recruited to play tennis in college or to help them navigate life post-tennis! As a woman, it’s important to build allies who have your back and will propel you forward, who aren't a coach, parent, or partner. I’m super passionate about inspiring female athletes and women, in general, to reach for the stars."
"I’m a big kid at heart, so I love experiences that make me feel connected to people and the planet. That includes sustainable traveling, anything to do with Space (yes as in planets) and high fashion. I try to inject these into my brand for Tennis with Riza."
"When I’m not playing tennis, I’m literally on my computer building my business, creating destination tennis retreats, and partnering with unique, like-minded brands like Volley Tequila Seltzer! I love learning new sports: I learned kiteboarding a year ago when I lived on Necker Island in the BVI, and now I’m learning golf. Lastly, I read actual books!"
How do you balance a healthy lifestyle with competitiveness and fun?
Really good planning
Discipline (Everything in moderation and keep to your plan..)
Riza: "I think all individuals are inherently competitive. It just boils down to how they handle it and what’s on the line. I try not to be too result-oriented and instead be open to the process. That helps me cool off my “hot head” in the heat of battle! Playing sports is one of the best ways to learn how to compete AND have fun regardless of the outcome."
What are your goals or accomplishments?
Riza: "I’ve had tremendous accomplishments over the last two decades as a player: I don't want to bore you with the list! But most notably: my highest professional career rank was 76 in the world in doubles, and I played at the US Open in NYC, Wimbledon in London, and The French Open in Paris, amongst others worldwide. While at UCLA, I was an 8-time All-American, 2x NCAA Champion, and awarded conference student-athlete of the year with a 3.8 GPA."
"More recently, I was Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson’s tennis coach of 3 years and loved every minute of my time on Necker Island."
"And now, I’m embarking on an (exciting and terrifying) journey to become an entrepreneur. I’m so happy about the promo video for Tennis with Riza, which premier’s very soon! It captures the essence of who I am as a coach and how I want people to feel when they’re on the court with me. My goals are to create three new meaningful partnerships with brands like Volley Tequila Seltzer and collaborate on a handful of events that celebrate our mission and values."
What are some struggles or bumps that you’ve hit in the road?
Riza: "At age 19, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I think 1 in 4 adults have it but go undiagnosed. Without daily medication, it would seriously mess up my hormone dispersion, lowering my metabolism, and adding unwanted body weight. I dealt with some eating and body image issues for a decade, but that disappeared once I got the right dosage and learned to manage my thoughts and behaviors."
Why are you so passionate about tennis?
Riza: "Evolving from player to coach has made me realize how much the sport has given to me and shaped me into who I am today. I love sharing the joy of tennis and bringing people together. It can be learned and played at any age. This might sound silly, but I love watching other people play tennis- especially beginners! It’s funny, but they are out there for one reason- not for money, fame, or ranking- just pure love."
How can Tipsy Tennis better introduce someone to tennis?
Riza: "I once asked a guest on Necker Island, would you like to play tipsy tennis with us this afternoon? and she smiled and replied, I can’t play, but I can do the “tipsy.” I’m not suggesting that drinking alcohol is the cure-all for someone learning to play tennis, but it certainly does ease any anxiety about hitting the ball and being on the court. New players team up with more experienced players in a variety of unconventional tennis games like “Gladiators” “threesomes” that are hilariously challenging for anyone."
What do you get when you sign up for Tipsy Tennis?
Riza: "When you sign up for Tipsy Tennis, you get to hang out with cool people, work out, and sip on something refreshing! No racket? No problem? I provide the newest and best tennis rackets that you can borrow, from Yonex USA. You also get to brag to your other friends that they missed out."
We are thrilled to announce that December 2nd, Riza has officially launched Tipsy Tennis. "Inspired by my time on Necker Island, I present tennis in an inclusive and inviting way, bringing people together to connect on another level and feel like a kid again. Whether your playing or spectating, quench your thirst on your favorite beverages to mocktails." - Riza
Watch the full video here or DM @tenniswithriza and reach out to find out more!
Learn more about booking a Tipsy Tennis event with Riza for any occasion: Birthday parties, bachelorettes, brunches, and more using the link below!