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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Janina and Niclas, tennis twins reunited at MSU

Blake Williams | MSU Communications

Niclas Bruan, a junior MSU men’s tennis player from Berlin, Germany, sizes up a serve. 

Twins do school, life, and for Janina and Niclas Braun, both juniors from Berlin, Germany, they do tennis together.

The twins were not separated until college when Niclas came to Mississippi State University and Janina went to Virginia Commonwealth University.

“We have always been with each other from day one, including kindergarten, primary school, high school until college,” Niclas Braun said.  “Basically, where we went separate ways at first, but she eventually transferred from VCU to State.”

Janina spent two years at VCU in Richmond, Virginia, improving her game, and climbing up from the number six spot to the number one spot on the team.

“I achieved a lot at VCU, and I really wanted to be part of a bigger program and conference to step up my game,” Janina Braun said. “Me and my parents really loved the idea of being united with my twin again. My season results convinced the coaches at MSU, and I was more than happy that they showed interest in me and offered a spot on the team right away.”

Niclas had a different path to playing for MSU, he was recruited and decided to play at MSU, despite never coming for a visit. He said his decision has not disappointed him.

“I never came on a visit to State, but former assistant coach Tanner Stump came to Berlin and met my family and my coaches, and watched me compete as well,” Niclas Braun said.  “Just him showing me the program and getting a feeling for this atmosphere and vibes was great to see.”

The pair first started playing tennis using balloons on a kids’ court, and although they tried other sports like soccer, volleyball or track, tennis really stuck with them and became their number one priority.

“We started playing tennis at the age of four in kindergarten. The kindergarten offered a few free tryout lessons,” Niclas Braun said. “We immediately loved it, we used to practice together sometimes, but we never really liked playing each other, it would never end too well.”

The twins also spent time together off the court, either in the classroom or at home, they did everything from homework to studying for quizzes together. Janina said they have always had a good relationship.

“We have always had a very good relationship. We are supporting and helping each other a lot,” Janina Braun said. “Since first grade, we’ve been together in one class, so we used to do homework together and study for exams in the evenings after practice.”  

Because they were in the same class, they were also on the same schedule. Janina said this allowed them to work together as a team.

“The same time schedule helped us and our parents tremendously to manage our week at home. We always worked as a team,” Janina Braun said. “While he strung my rackets, I tried to explain to him the next topic for the biology test.”

One of their favorite family memories was the time spent on holiday traveling throughout Europe, Janina said they once made a six-to-eight week tour playing in 10 countries. This tour ended with a little vacation, too.

“The summer holidays, where we traveled together with our parents through Europe and played international junior tournaments,” Janina Braun said. “We met many great tennis players who play college tennis today here in the U.S.”

When Niclas first came to MSU, he faced some challenges alone, separated from his sister. On top of learning how to handle time, there was also a small language barrier at first.

“Probably the first weeks there was a small language barrier, but I think I caught up pretty well with it,” Niclas Braun said. “Time management is a big word with being a student-athlete. I had to get used to planning through every day and week to knock out assignments, and not get behind studying for quizzes and tests.”

Now they are at the same school and are able to depend on each other once again, as Niclas lives around the corner from Janina. The twins now have a similar class schedule, so they spend time studying together. Janina also said Niclas is someone she can talk too when she is in a rough spot.

“I think we talk every day and check in on each other if everything is going well. After a rough week, I’m just happy sometimes to complain and let off frustration in my own language,” Janina Braun said. “The time difference makes it difficult to talk to my friends at home during the week, so Nic is my first person to go to.”

They also support each other while playing tennis, either by watching the game in person or by watching the other online when gone for games. Whenever they have free time, Janina says they will spend it with each other.

“To be honest, there is just very little time outside of school and tennis, but if we find some time we spend evenings together with the women’s and men’s team,” Janina Braun said. “Go out for dinner or watch movies. Sometimes I cook dinner for him too.”

Niclas’ favorite restaurant is Umi’s, and so is Janina’s, although she says she has multiple favorite places to go eat at in Starkville.

“For lunch, it is definitely Newks. I enjoy their salads and sandwiches a lot, for dinner my go-to is Umis, nothing can beat a seafood Hibachi plate and some sushi,” Janina Braun said. “People who know me well would always take me to local culture first. I’m in love with ice cream, and rather skip the entree to get a big dessert bowl after.”

Janina said her parents are glad they can be together at the same school, so they do not have to worry as much about her and Niclas. She said she and Niclas are grateful to have the opportunity they have here in Starkville.

“It is something special to us, to play for the same school and be part of a great program here at Mississippi State,” Janina Braun said. “We are happy that we got this opportunity, and are very thankful for the amazing people around us.”

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Janina and Niclas, tennis twins reunited at MSU