To those who know Masha Ilina and Sylwia Ziolkowska, the strong bond the two share is obvious.
However, because Masha's home is in Kyiv, Ukraine and Sylwia is from Warsaw, Poland, one might ask how two young women from different countries could be so close. In fact, their common ground comes from their status as teammates on the East Tennessee State University women's' tennis team.
And as Ziolkowska explained it, "We are sisters."
Obviously, the two are not technically sisters, but the bond they share is one that is very rare indeed.
Ilina, currently a sophomore, finished her freshman season with the best singles record on the tennis team, with 28 wins and 10 losses. This record placed her in a tie for first on ETSU's all-time single season wins list.
Her roommate, Ziolkowska, currently a junior, finished the 2003-04 season with a singles record of 19-17 with several close losses. And this year, she was the co-champion of her singles bracket at the ETSU Fall Collegiate Classic.
As doubles partners, the two girls went 16-12, knocking off some tough competition. Together they advanced to the round of 16 at the Wilson ITA Southeast Regional Indoors by defeating a three-time All-SoCon doubles team from Davidson, 8-2, before falling in a tough 8-4 match to Duke.
Needless to say, these girls know how to succeed on the tennis court.
Another thing they know is that they will always have each other, no matter what. As doubles partners, roommates, and competitive members of the ETSU tennis team, they understand how to leave tennis on the court.
"We are doubles partners and roommates, so we have to get along" explained Masha, who added that in seven months of living together the two have never had a fight.
"When we get aggravated with each other, we simply back-off and try to let the other person have their space," llina said. "We feel that this is a key to being good roommates."
When asked what types of things they enjoyed doing off the tennis court to keep busy, they simply said handing out with friends and enjoying themselves.
"We love to go out, have fun, and be crazy! That's just how we are, we are crazy girls," Ziolkowska said.
The two love going out so much that when asked what their future plans were they pointed to doing what they love.
"We are going to open up a night club, in Miami, called Apartment 91, because that's what we call our apartment now," said Ziolkowska.
"We also enjoy going to the movies, cooking together, studying, and just doing anything fun and crazy. When you are together 24/7, everything you do together becomes fun," Ilina said.
Being such compatible roommates, the girls have offered advice for similar living arrangements. They explain that it isn't easy, but there are a few things you can do to help any situation.
"You have to understand that they won't always be in a good mood. If you can learn when to stay away, everything will be fine. You also have to learn how to communicate with each other, this is important too," Ziolkowska said.
These two teammates had a few words to say about each other and the impact they have made on their lives since they first met.
"Sylwia is probably the most trustworthy person I have ever met. I feel like I can tell her anything. She is crazy, and she help's me out in every way that she can. But most of all she makes me laugh," Ilina said.
"This girl is fun, smart, and supportive," Ziolkowska said. "She always gives me good advice and advice that I will use forever. She will get everything she wants out of life. I know this for a fact - that is just the type of personality she has."
Without each other, they explained that things would not be the same. They both agree that their college days are days they will never forget, all thanks to each other.
The Lady Bucs's tennis team is now in full swing. To follow their progress this season, simply check them out at www.etsubucs.com.
By Lindsey Tippens
ETSU Athletic Media Relations-Student Intern