CUNY Spotlight: Brooklyn's Latif-Zade is a Star on the Court and in the Classroom
Women's Tennis / 10/17/2018 12:21:17 PM

CUNY Spotlight: Brooklyn's Latif-Zade is a Star on the Court and in the Classroom

By: Ellis Simon
Oct. 17, 2018

Brooklyn College junior Tamila Latif-Zade, a transfer from Kingsborough Community College, admits her transition has been “a bit of a challenge. Here you are more on your own,” she says. “You have to figure things out by yourself and adjust to a new setting. The classes are harder, too.”

However, those obstacles have been mostly on the academic side, not athletics. Tamila, who was an NJCAA Region XV tennis champion at Kingsborough, is proving herself to be a solid addition to the Bulldogs’ formidable team.

Her record currently stands at 8-1 in singles and a perfect 10-0 in doubles. She regularly plays at the No. 2 flight in singles and is usually paired with the team’s No. 1 singles player for doubles, Ievgeniia Kostenko, who is the reigning CUNYAC Player of the Year.

Latif-Zade and the Bulldogs recently completed a flawless regular season against conference opposition, posting an unblemished 6-0 mark in CUNYAC play. As a result, Brooklyn secured its first CUNYAC regular-season title since 2011 and locked down the No. 1 seed in the upcoming league tournament.

Tamila, who majors in psychology at Brooklyn, is a standout in the classroom, as well. She graduated from Kingsborough with a 3.9 GPA and has set her sights on getting admitted into the free tuition program at NYU Medical School.

Born in Uzbekistan, Tamila began playing tennis in her native land when she was three. Her family moved to the United States and settled in Sheepshead Bay when she was eight. They worked multiple jobs so she could take private tennis lessons.

When she was ten, she was accepted into the City Parks Tennis academy, a prestigious program run by the City Parks Foundation that provides free high-quality instruction to an elite cohort of 35 talented young players from throughout New York City.

Her on-court achievements earned her the U.S. Tennis Association’s David Dinkins Scholarship and the Billie Jean King Junior Achievement Award. She also attended training workshops at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.

Extremely competitive and disciplined, Tamila says she is less concerned about other people’s expectation and more about her own. “I always want to win. I even have friendly competitions with friends who play for other colleges."

“They are all people I met at the free tennis academy when we were 10 to 12. We grew up playing tennis together.” She also has faced players who were her opponents when she was at James Madison High School and Kingsborough.

When she isn’t playing, practicing or studying, Tamila spends her time with family and friends. “I enjoy exploring New York City, meeting new people and trying new foods,” she says.

She also has worked part-time, giving tennis lessons and as an aide at the U.S. Open and she plans to start volunteering at a hospital, which she did while in high school.

Playing tennis has helped Tamila succeed as a student as well an athlete. “My whole life is balancing school and education,” she says. “If I didn’t have tennis or another sport I wouldn’t be able to do as well. It made me hard-working and disciplined and helped me develop time management skills.”

Latif-Zade and the Bulldogs, who earned a first-round bye in the CUNYAC Championship, will face either fourth-seeded Baruch College or fifth-seeded Lehman College in the semifinals of the 2018 CUNYAC/HSS Women's Tennis Tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing.