Zarina Sayed

Zarina Sayed, Women's Tennis

An Athlete’s Philosophy
The saying goes: “Success is when preparation meets opportunity.” Zarina Sayed, an Oakton Women’s Tennis player and upcoming competitor in the NJCAA Division I Women's Tennis National Championship Tournament, would agree and amend the saying slightly. She says: “Success is when preparation gives you the confidence to make the most of an opportunity."

“I don’t know what to expect, but I’m doing everything I can to prepare myself to compete. I’ve had an endless amount of opportunities at Oakton and it has been a pleasure being part of such a wonderful tennis team. Coach Alfredo Velasco continues to teach me how to be a great player. Practicing with the men’s tennis team, lifting heavy at the gym and building endurance are some of the ways I am preparing. When I go to work at the tennis courts, I get hits in with the ball machine. Every week I plan my grocery list and try to eat healthy. I have off days, but consistently getting in the gym helps me. I lean on my friends and family—I am incredibly thankful for those relationships. Rest days are important to find a balance between working hard and rebuilding, recovering and resting. I know sleeping well and taking good care of myself now can make the difference when it’s time for me to perform at Nationals.”

The Secret to Staying Consistent
Zarina has been playing Tennis since she was eight years old, along with other interests like basketball and cello. When she was younger, she pursued these interests to make her parents proud, but now her motivation comes from within. Along with her other interests, Zarina feels she has personally grown with tennis. She finds self-motivation is the best incentive when trying to stay consistent with preparation and practice

“When I was younger, my first priority was to make my parents proud and that’s why I continued these interests. As I got older, I fell in love with what I was doing, not only because it developed me in different areas of life, but also because I was connected with other people from different backgrounds, with different interests. This helped me explore myself and remain open to new ideas. It gave me a Plan B, C and D, which is a comforting feeling—to have options and feel like the possibilities are limitless.”

Career Clarity Through Netflix
Zarina is studying psychology at Oakton and plans to transfer and double major in nutrition and wellness and fitness. Zarina is confident that she wants to become a sports psychologist, a profession she learned about in an unlikely way.

“I discovered sports psychology while I was watching a Netflix show. There was a scene where a football player was struggling with his mental health and he reached out to a sports psychologist. And that’s when I realized there are therapists for athletes. I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I know how practice and performing can take a toll on an athlete and that they can feel pressured to keep their emotions in at times. I want to be in a position to help athletes when they reach out for it.”

Zarina competes at the NJCAA Division I Women's Tennis National Championship Tournament on May 6, 2023, in Tyler, Texas.