CHARLESTON, S.C. - "In doubles, it's about complimenting each other, communicating, and understanding one another well," said Filippa Ericson.
The senior tennis player certainly knows a thing or two about doubles play. When paired with fellow senior Kimberley Koerner this season, the duo have won an even 10 matches this season. The two seniors will be playing their final matches in Charleston this week, and few doubles partners complement each other better than these two.
Though there are distinct differences in their paths, both Ericson and Koerner ended up at CSU and made the most of their opportunities in collegiate tennis.
From an early age, Filippa Ericson knew where she wanted her tennis career to take her.
"College tennis has always been the main goal of my tennis career," said Ericson. "Obviously I would have loved to go pro, but I don't think that would've been realistic. I knew I wanted to go to America and play college tennis from the time I was 12. To know that I'm about to finish that part of my life is so crazy. It's honestly been so amazing."
When Ericson arrived in America, she noticed that the college game differed from the amateur tennis she was used to.
"The sport is so different in college because you get to play as a team," Ericson said. "Tennis is an individual sport, so when I came here, I was used to just playing for myself. Getting to combine playing for yourself and also for a team is so awesome. You can create such close friendships with your teammates because you're all out there together every day practicing along with all these matches you get together. You win together and you lose together. It's so special and I'm happy to have had the chance to experience that."
Her first stop in the states was at USC Upstate where she quickly established herself one of the team's top players. She won 16 singles and 15 doubles matches between her two years in Spartanburg. When it came time for her to transfer, Ericson said she worried about the transition.
"Any time you leave your old friends behind and have to make new ones, it's going to be difficult," said Ericson. "But with this team (at CSU), it was very easy to fit in with the girls on the team and become friends. There weren't any issues for me when it came to transferring, it was a very positive experience."
Once she arrived at CSU, Ericson went to work and, once again, proved to be one of the best players at another school. She shined in doubles with 21 wins in her two years with the Bucs. In 2018, she paired with Valeria Koussenkova to win 11 doubles matches.
This year, she won seven matches in a row with Koerner which is the longest streak at CSU since 2015. The two work well on the court, and Ericson says it's because of their relationship off the court.
"Both of us have a lot of experience because we're seniors, and we're able to give each other constructive criticism," said Ericson. "Neither of us take it personally, which lets us have good conversations about what we need to work on."
Kimberley Koerner compliments Ericson well both on and off the court. While Ericson had always dreamed of playing collegiate tennis, Koerner said it was never something she saw herself doing.
"Coming here was a big step for me. I'm very family-oriented person. At first, I never thought I would come to college (in the states). I couldn't imagine myself being that far away from my family. Once I got here, I was homesick at first. But having a team with so many other international girls made me feel a lot better because they understand how I feel and we could relate to each other."
Though Koerner may have been homesick her freshman year, it didn't show on the court. As a freshman, she won 12 singles matches with 10 wins coming in straight sets. She followed that up the next year by winning her first 13 singles in a row on her way to being named Second-Team All-Big South.
In all, Koerner has won 43 singles matches and 38 doubles matches in her four year career at CSU. Though she is the lone four-year senior on the team, Koerner says has the same appreciation for her teammates' support.
"Since I'm the only one on the team that has been here all four years, I do kind of feel like the grandma of the team," laughed Koerner. "But it's nice that we all have that second family that no matter what happens that we can rely on each other, have people to talk to."
Both girls say the team comradery is their favorite part of playing tennis at CSU.
"The best part of this experience has been all the people I've met and how much I've learned through the diverse friends I've made," agreed Ericson. "Our team is so diverse with different nationalities. Getting to learn from the close friends that are from all over the world and understanding their backgrounds and why they have their opinions and beliefs."
"We do have a couple girls from the states, and that's been nice because they've shown us how things are done around here," said Koerner. "I really like the people from the south, the southern hospitality. People back home are not that friendly. Coming here and having people welcome and appreciate you simply being here has been a blessing."
The girls can also agree on their favorite moment of their careers at CSU: this season's win over College of Charleston. Both Ericson and Koerner said that the first win in program history against their crosstown rivals was their favorite moment.
"That was a big match for sure," said Ericson. "Obviously they're a rival to us because we're the big two schools in Charleston. We're kind of the underdogs in that situation, and it's always fun to win as an underdog. When people ask about us and C of C, we get to say that we're better than them now which is really awesome."
"We're rivals of course, so beating them 4-3 was one of our program's biggest wins since we hadn't beat them," Koerner agreed. "It was an amazing team effort and in that moment, we found out just how close our team was and it was just a really good experience."
But the team isn't satisfied with just beating their opposition in Charleston.
"Obviously winning a conference title soon would be an even better memory. Hopefully we can get to do that," added Ericson.
Whether or not she wins a title, coming to play tennis at CSU was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Ericson. She had long waited to play collegiate tennis in America, but it wasn't until the end of her senior year that she realized that she had "made it."
"I hadn't really thought about it yet, but it does make me feel good," said Ericson. "Of course I feel like I could've done better in some parts, I'm a bit of a perfectionist in that way. I always like to do everything as well as I possibly can. Overall though, I think I tried my best and I'm happy with the way things turned out. I'm thankful I was able to come here and experience this."
For Koerner on the other hand, playing tennis at the collegiate level wasn't always the plan, but she says she's proud of how it's made her into the woman she is today.
"I have definitely grown as a person," Koerner said. "I have learned to be independent, how to manage my time, and fight through tough situations. Overall, my experience has been amazing and I will forever be thankful for the opportunity that has been given to me."
Ericson and Koerner will be honored on Senior Day prior to their match against Tulane on Sunday, April 7th at 2pm. Their final home match will take place against Winthrop won Wednesday, April 10th also at 2pm.