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The Swedish Duo: Valentinsson sisters take the court together for the 2024 season

The Valentinsson sisters bring substantial talent to the Miami tennis team
The Valentinsson sisters bring substantial talent to the Miami tennis team

With the 2024 spring tennis season already underway, the Miami University RedHawks look to new and old faces to lead them to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship come April. One pair of sisters from Sweden in particular brings exceptional talent to the team: Emilia and Lovisa Valentinsson.

Emilia and Lovisa, a junior and a first-year respectively, have been playing tennis together since they were younger, both starting at the age of 4. Their love for the game came from their father. 

“My dad started playing tennis when he was about 17 and has played ever since,” Emilia said. “He was always kind of our coach throughout our career, and my brother played, so it was kind of natural for me to start playing.” 

For Lovisa, it was similar. The decision to join the Miami tennis team in the fall was an easy one, despite the distance from their hometown of Malmo, Sweden.

“I wanted to go to college because both of my siblings went, and I knew Mil liked it here,” Lovisa said. “I talked to the coach and we made a good connection. Coming here to be with my sister was a bonus. We’ve always been so close.” 

When it came to attending college in the United States, the transition was rather seamless. By playing a global sport and speaking English since childhood, the two found the change easier than anticipated, and they were excited about the opportunity to play tennis in the States.

“I was really excited to play college tennis because you play for a team,” Emilia said. “Before I came here, I played a lot of ITF, which are international tournaments, but you always play alone and it gets kind of lonely.”

Emilia has contributed to the team in a multitude of ways. She has already won MAC Player of the Week this season, was named Academic All-MAC in the 2022-23 season as well as Academic All-District, and has now found her way to the No. 2 position in singles, all while being named Team Captain. 

For Head Coach Ricardo Rosas, having Emilia on the team for two years, and now adding Lovisa to the team, has created a more competitive yet supportive dynamic between the two and for the team. 

“They are very good friends and they get along well, so they bring the best out of each other and they speak the truth to each other, and that really affects the whole team,” Rosas said.

For the sisters, having each other at Miami has been more than beneficial, and not just for athletic reasons. They bring a piece of family to each other when the rest are back home. 

“Since I am a freshman, it’s been really helpful having my sister here,” Lovisa said. “She has helped me with everything, and even just the comfort of having her here, I couldn’t have wished for a better college or going without my sister.”

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As the season progresses, Lovisa has already made an impact on the team, seeing quite a bit of action at No. 6 singles and participating in doubles. The first-year has already faced high competition before MAC play begins.

For Rosas, her ability to step up to the challenge has been noteworthy. 

“Sometimes in matches, the pressure gets to athletes, but you see an aspect of Lovisa that when she plays she raises her level to embrace the competition,” Rosas said. “Her energy is up and she is trying to find a way to win. As she likes to say, it's a work in progress, but she believes that and she is getting better every day.”

The RedHawks have multiple weekends of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition coming up to improve and strive for their end-of-season goals. After going 11-14 in last year's regular season and 5-5 in the MAC, the women are hungry for wins. 

The team has 14 games left before the MAC tournament and is currently at 4-5.In his eighth year as head coach, Rosas has continuously created a supportive environment that is described by the Valentinsson sisters as a whole family, being able to grow and push one another every day.

“I love these girls so much,” Emilia said. “Even the coach, he is the best coach and he is so much more than that for us, helping us become a better person and a better version of ourselves in everyday life.”