Imagine your 17-year-old self stepping aboard a plane and leaving everything you’ve ever known a half of a world away. Your friends, family, language: all gone.
To risk such high stakes, the opportunity must be profound—a chance at a better life, perhaps, or a chance to pursue a dream. For Malin Allgurin ’15, of Varnamo, Sweden, Longwood held the promise of that opportunity, both on the tennis court and in the classroom.
Allgurin, a very good tennis player at her high school in Sweden, found her opportunities to continue competing in the sport she loved limited as she approached graduation. Unlike her sister, Ellen, who turned professional, Malin faced the choice of traveling abroad to play at an American college or giving up the sport. For some, that choice would prove difficult, but not for her.
"I knew what I wanted," she said, "and coming to America was the place I could continue to play tennis. Even though English was my worst subject in school, Longwood recruited me, and I took that leap."
And what a leap: flying to a country she had never visited, where a coach she had never met in person was waiting to take her to a campus she had never seen.
Very quickly, however, she found that Longwood was not just a place where she could excel on the tennis court—she was able to follow her passion in the classroom as well. "She is such a driven person," said head women’s tennis coach Bruce Myers. "She won’t let anything stand between her and what she wants—that’s on and off the court. If that means putting in extra hours in the weight room, staying after practice or neglecting her social life to study so she can keep her grades up, she puts in the work."
Allgurin’s work ethic is a natural byproduct of the self-confidence that is immediately apparent. "I have always known who I am and what I want to accomplish," said the 5-foot-11 tennis star who has played No. 1 on the team for two years. "But I also know what it takes to reach those goals and that it’s not an easy road. Coming to Longwood, where I didn’t know anyone, forced me to grow up quickly—but I like challenges."
Reach those goals she did. In her senior season, Allgurin became Longwood’s all-time Division I wins leader, with 59.
The owner of her own catering business when she was 17, Allgurin is no stranger to hard work or leadership. Never one to lead from behind, she demands the same commitment from her teammates.
"She is at the center of this team, and she is passionate about achieving at the highest level she can both on the court and off," said Myers. "She’s a true leader—you only have to watch how younger players follow her lead and mimic her work ethic to know what an impact she has had on this program. She’s really raised the bar for women’s tennis at Longwood."
Off the court, Allgurin put the same energy into her studies—she graduates Saturday with a degree in business administration, a minor in economics and a concentration in finance. She’s a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honor society, and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. She plans to work in America before returning to her native Sweden for graduate school.