Occidental alumnus David Bojalad to take over as head men’s and women’s tennis coach


After several months of searching, the athletics department has hired David Bojalad ’94 as the men’s and women’s tennis head coach. Bojalad is an Occidental alumnus and was a member of the tennis team during his enrollment.

“This is quite honestly my dream job,” Bojalad said. “This school has the greatest single upside for a tennis program in the country, period. Having facilities now [new home courts coming in the spring], there’s really nothing holding this program back from becoming an elite Division III tennis program.”

Bojalad previously coached at Occidental starting in 2002 and stayed for two years, when it was still a part-time job. He then went on to coach at Whittier College, and most recently, Dickinson College.

The search for a new tennis coach began in August 2018, when former head coach Rachel Manasse unexpectedly announced she would be leaving for a position at the University of South California, according to Occidental Athletics. During the team’s time without a coach, the captains organized unofficial practices, according to team captain Nicole Pelletier (senior).

The hiring committee arranged for the teams to meet candidates before the final decision, according to Bojalad. During these meetings, Bojalad spoke about his coaching philosophy, style and experience before answering questions from the players.

“I was really happy with the hiring process because I felt like the team was really involved,” Sydney Leiweke (first year) said. “It was a big shock to everyone, especially us freshmen, to come in and get this email that we don’t have a coach anymore. So I think they did a really good job of … realizing that that was not the easiest thing, and making sure we all had a voice.”

Leiweke said she was impressed by Bojalad’s experience coaching both the men’s and women’s team at Dickinson College, as opposed to only one. Additionally, she said Bojalad emphasized the mental aspects of the sport during his meeting with the team, which stood out to her and her teammates.

“I just really appreciated that, because it is both a physically and mentally demanding sport,” Leiweke said. “His whole philosophy is that we’re gonna work hard and have fun, and the winning and the rest of it will take care of itself.”

Bojalad, who has a master’s degree in sports psychology and kinesiology from San Diego State University, said he believes players apply the mental skills he incorporates into his coaching through their performance on the court.

“My coaching philosophy is really sort of fun-based,” Bojalad said. “Every practice we have needs to be compelling. It’s been, in my experience, when players are engaged in fun — at the same time, working hard — they see tennis as an opportunity to improve, to realize their potential. They’re motivated from within and playing for all the right reasons.”

Bojalad said he was hopeful for the coming year and the potential for the team to rise nationally in the future. The Tennis Recruiting Network ranked the men’s first-year players as 20th in Division III recruiting classes nationwide, and both the men’s and women’s teams ranked in the top 20 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) West Region last year.

“There is a strong foundation of talent here,” Bojalad said. “[I] try not to be too outcome-oriented when it comes to win-losses [or] rankings. We’re looking at the micro-aspect of getting better every day.”

In addition to his connection to the school as an alumnus, Bojalad’s son, Hunter Bojalad (sophomore), is currently on the tennis team. According to Hunter Bojalad, his father called to discuss the matter shortly before his meeting with the team. Although his father never coached him in tennis growing up, Hunter Bojalad said seeing his father coach games at Whittier had influenced him.

“He called me and asked me if it would be weird if he applied, and I said no, and he said ‘Good, because I did apply and I’m one of the last three candidates,’” Hunter Bojalad said. “I thought that was really cool. I was really excited.”

During the time he attended Occidental, David Bojalad played under the coaching of current head basketball coach Brian Newhall. According to Lewieke and Hunter Bojalad, Newhall was also involved in the hiring process and communicated with the team.

The tennis team has had a number of new coaches in the last few years, with Manasse only serving as coach for one year and Ghia Godfree (the coach before Manassee) serving for two. Hunter Bojalad and Lewieke both noted that the teams were looking for a new coach to stay, and Bojalad said he feels good about the long-term prospects at Occidental.

“I absolutely love the school,” Bojalad said. “It’s a perfect scenario; I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Coming to the team a few months into the year, both players and Bojalad said the schedule is shifted, but the new coach is confident he can make the most out of the rest of the semester.

“It is gonna be tricky. I’ve never come into a job in the middle of the year like this, but the goal is to have some sort of fall season,” Bojalad said. “I think all that is sort of fine when we practice together and get the [season] started.”

Bojalad will begin coaching Nov. 5, with the tennis teams’ traditional season and conference games beginning in the spring.