Three years ago, a tennis player from Stockholm, Sweden, decided to take her talents to Missouri. Now, she leads her team in wins for the second consecutive season.
Missouri Western junior Karolina Ström recently earned a spot in the ITA Division II Top 75 for singles players across the nation. She currently sits ranked No. 69 in the U.S.
“She’s going up against the best of the best, so it’s nice to have someone like that on the team who’s holding her own,” Western coach Shawn Becker said. “Having Karolina hit her stride this year is setting her up for success for her senior year.”
After the Griffons’ 5-2 win over No. 47 Rockhurst on Tuesday, Ström is 12-4 in singles and 15-4 in doubles.
Ström and her doubles partner Joanna Abreu Roman are responsible for half of Western’s 30 doubles wins this season. Last year, the two went 13-8 in doubles. The pair have played together for three years now, but it will be their last with Roman graduating in May.
“I have to start getting use to the fact that Joanna is leaving,” Ström said. “My senior year is the most important year for me, so I have to work on finding someone.”
After her freshman year, Ström said she began focusing on improving not only her physical strength but also her mental fortitude. She believes keeping a positive mind during a match has played a significant part in her success.
“The more positive I am, the better I’m going to do,” Ström said. “I realize at this point that every single time I get down on myself it’s just going to have a negative impact on me when I’m playing.”
Last season, the tennis player ended with a team-best 15-5 record, the most wins for a Griffon in more than 20 years. She received All-MIAA Honorable Mention honors at No. 1 singles.
Ström’s family remains in her Sweden hometown. She returns to Stockholm twice a year, during summer and winter break. Ström said her family has seen her play with Western and continues to visit.
“It’s tough, but I deal with it,” Ström said.