*It was a pickleball smash…he got round the court in a flash….Morgan commented good trash…at Marcin’s Monster Match.
Hey all you fans of crazy racquet action. This edition is about one of the most entertaining pro players in all of Pickledom….Win or lose, his games are always fun to watch. Let’s find out how this guy’s solid technique allows him to be a freewheeling beast on the court. Although he can be scary to compete against, I found out he is quite friendly and forthcoming to interview…Here is what I found out about the player that his doubles partner, Morgan Evans, affectionately dubbed the Polish Monster…
Lets’s turn back the clock…It’s the early 1980’s at a military club called Legia Warszawa in Warsaw, Poland… An athlete, not yet in his teens, has to make a choice between two very different sports. He enjoys both, but he is wise enough to know it is better to specialize in one than be a master of neither…Young Marcin Rozpedski decides to be different…He will concentrate on tennis rather than the more popular game of soccer. It was not an easy decision.
In those days Poland was a communist country. Playing tennis was very difficult. The club seldom had money for new balls, shoes, or outfits. Rozpedski played with a wooden racquet. It had patched up top strings because there is no money to restring it. The future star recalled practicing for weeks with one ball. The coaching was not sophisticated. Marcin Rozpedski went to his first tournament without even knowing how to score. However, in spite of everything, he was keen. Eventually the time came when Marcin started to think about his future. Could he make a living in tennis? Could he earn his keep playing the game he loved? His father and mother also wanted what was best for their talented son.
When their youngster became a teenager, Marcin’s parents began to think about where their son’s love for tennis would lead to. Marcin Rozpedski’s family could see that he had potential to be a good player. However, they realized that Marcin needed help… If he was going to compete with the best players in the world, their son would need top training. Unfortunately, that was not available in Poland. Marcin would have to move…Eventually the difficult decision was made…Marcin would go to where he had a chance to develop his full potential. The young athlete packed his bags…Alone, and at the age of fifteen, Marcin Rozpedski started his journey to America!
Van Der Meer Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina – sounds good, right?….How about ”world class”….That’s the training centre where Marcin Rozpedski’s raw skill would be nurtured and polished to a professional level. What an exciting opportunity for a lad from Eastern Europe! Marcin thrived in this new environment. He dedicated himself to his sport and in time his diligence paid off…. At age 18 Marcin Rozpedski returned to his homeland, won the Polish National Championship and became number one in Poland. After that he continued to compete in major tournaments around the world, including in the Davis Cup for Poland in 1994 and 1995. Travel, great competition, admiring fans….Rozpedski was living every player’s dream. Unfortunately, his sports journey was about to hit a bump in the road… Marcin would have to overcome a new challenge.
When he was twenty, Marcin Rozpedski’s pro career came to a halt when he fell ill with malaria. He recovered and began instructing and playing college tennis at College of the Desert and UCLA. Marcin has a gift for teaching and as the years past he was employed as Head Tennis Pro in prestigious resorts like The Ritz Carlton Hotel and Indian Ridge Country Club. Then Marcin Rozpedski became a Sports Director at The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, Ca. That’s where this story takes a twist…The Lakes facility had 15 tennis courts. They were not used all the time, and, as we know, there is another activity that will rush in to fill a tennis court vacuum:-) That’s where his story took a twist and opened up a new sports avenue for Marcin Rozpedski to explore.
The Lakes Tennis Director didn’t know what to do…. Some of the club patrons asked if he would tape the lines and designate some times and some courts for pickleball. He realized that his members were quite keen on the game but Marcin was somewhat reluctant to start a new trend on his tennis courts. Fortunately Rozpedski had an idea…he knew from his work that there was a well known USAPA Ambassador in his area. Marcin Rozpedski had never met this fellow, named Chris Thomas, but Marcin decided to give him a call. Marcin took a fateful step….He invited Thomas to do a pickleball exhibition/clinic at the Lakes facility. The result of Marcin’s discussion with Chris Thomas is part of the Pickleball Channel video below. This link will explain a lot and fill in for many, many words. This short clip is an historic bit of pickleball history.
Pb Stars – Marcin Rozpedski, Chris Thomas, Blake Wilcox, Kim Poppa Jagd, Morgan Evans and others talk tennis and pickleball.
Marcin Rozpedski had taken his first tentative pickleing step…Chris Thomas and the pb members at the Lakes had convinced Marcin that our funny game should be taken seriously. The players enjoyed it and Marcin, although often busy with work, decided to make some time to play pickleball with his good friend Blake Wilcox. Inevitably pickleball worked it’s magic spell on Marcin and many of the other tennis directors in the Coachella Valley. Isn’t it funny how pickleball works that way…it’s a beautiful addiction:-)
In Marcin Rozpedski’s case his competitive instinct lead him to want to do his best at his new sport. That lead him to wanting to play against top players, and where you find a good collection of great pickleballers is at great pickleball tournaments…. One of the first references to Marcin Rozpedski I could find on the tournament result page was June 2015 at the SoCal Classic. He won a gold in men’s doubles with Scott Burr and a gold in men’s open singles play.
Marcin Rozpedski’s first game video I could find is the link below. It is significant because it is one of only two times that Marcin has lost a singles match in pickleball. The match took place on Sept 2015 at the TOC. His opponent was the top men’s singles player at the time – Daniel Moore…The only other time Marcin lost a singles match was at the Lakes Spring Fling that just took place in early April at Palm Desert – I’ll talk more about that crazy match later. For now lets watch Marcin’s early adventure in top level singles play.
Marcin Rozpedski vs Daniel Moore 2015 TOC https://youtu.be/-6fgh-bk0-U
The next video is Marcin and Daniel again…it’s the gold medal match in men’s singles at the 2015 US Nationals, and it’s an epic contest under adverse conditions….The finals was supposed to take place on a Sunday but was weather delayed until the next day. Marcin Rozpedski had fairly easily won the Sunday preliminary match against Daniel Moore but things did not start well for Marcin in the Monday finals. Part of the problem for Rozpedski may have been the cool windy conditions that day. Whatever the problem, he started the match looking rather tense. Daniel Moore won two games and got a good lead in the fifteen point tie breaker. Dan looked to be in control and on his way to victory until there is a subtle momentum shift… Marcin told me that late in the contest he finally found a way to relax and get back in the game. In the video you will see the remarkable change in Marcin Rozpedski’s play midway through the third game….It is quite an interesting match, and well worth viewing even if you have seen it before.
Marcin Rozpedski vs Daniel Moore US Nationals https://youtu.be/x1aLUdu_S_E
There are four men in the world who play singles pickleball in the monster dimension. You have met two of them in the previous two videos. The next match features Marcin Rozpedski and another one of the top four super scary singles beasts – Kyle Yates…Kyle had a great year in 2016 and was named the Player of the Year. Part of the reason for the award was his play at the US Open (Apr 26th-May 1st, 2016). Kyle won 2 golds and a silver in doubles play. The following video is Kyle Yates’ US Open match vs Marcin in singles play at Naples. Kyle lost, taking the silver medal, but I think he won the hearts of his home state fans with his ”give it all” performance. The first two games, especially, are worth studying closely… as if you were a film student viewing a classic movie…The match is full of hauntingly good, highlight reel shots by both athletes!…It’s Marcin, Kyle and pb magic.
Marcin Rozpedski vs Kyle Yates 2016 US Open https://youtu.be/auQIrJF3adA
Marcin Rozpedski – 2016 US Open, Post Match Tips https://youtu.be/0E9SSVRllD8
Who would you think of if someone asked to name a famous duo?….Would you perhaps say Batman and Robin, Bert and Ernie, Simon and Garfunkel, or Hans Solo and Chewbacca? Or maybe you would name a food like milk and cookies that you could share with Scooby Doo and Shaggy Doo?… Those are all valid responses, but I’m a bit of a pb obsessive, so for me the most famous twosome that comes to my mind is Marcin and Morgan. The Morgan, in this case, is Morgan Evans…He is a tennis and pickleball professional from Palm Desert, Ca…Morgan Evans and Marcin Rozpedski coined the term ”shake and bake” to describe their effective blend of playing styles. Since their debut the guys have created an absolute earthquake in the men’s doubles tournament scene. I think of them as the epitome of iconic pickleball partners. You will see what I mean in one of their game videos. If there was a Pickleball Awards Show, I think this match would get a lot of ”best of the year” votes. The link coming up is the MD final at the SoCal Classic that took place in June 2016. I want to get into the back story of the contest before I give you the YouTube connection. It’s a interesting piece of Monster Match history…
Marcin and Morgan, the desert guys, came into the match relatively inexperienced in high level doubles competition. Perhaps that was a good thing….Maybe ignorance can make you a blissful player. Especially if you have confidence in your partner, and Marcin Rozpedski has faith in Morgan Evans. He appreciates Morgan’s smarts, finesse skills, consistency and ability to control the pace of the game. Morgan is also a great strategist who isn’t afraid to try different things to gain an edge on his opponents. With a partner like that, Marcin is able to do what he excels at – poaching and put away shots. Their dynamic synergy worked well at Encinitas and Marcin Rozpedski was feeling good, even a bit cocky, when he and his pal Morgan Evans bested a number of skilled teams to make it to the gold medal match at the SoCal Classic. It had been quite a day with only one close call in the early games.
The team that had given Marcin and Morgan the most trouble in the preliminary matches was the Dawson brothers. Callan and Tyler Dawson were on their home courts. Their parents, Steve and Jennifer Dawson, are the couple that hosted with grace and ease the SoCal tourney at the Bobby Riggs facility that they own. Callan, Tyler, Steve and Jennifer Dawson, are all exceptional athletes. Callan and Tyler, the young brothers, have done well whether they play together or with other partners. Last June, however, they were not able to get past the Rozpedski/Evans team. They then went on to another match, but Callan and Tyler Dawson had to settle for the bronze medal after losing a three game battle vs Wes Gabrielsen and Matt Staub. After that the stage was set….Wes and Matt would challenge the M&M team. Marcin and Morgan had beat them handily in the prelims. Gabrielsen and Staub needed to change things for the gold medal match.
Both Wes Gabrielsen and Matt Staub are experienced players with heaps of medals in tournament events. Wes and Matt adjusted their play in the finals, making sure they kept their shots low so that Marcin and Morgan couldn’t control the match with their aggressive play. Wes and Matt won two out of three of the 11 point games to force a 15 point tie-breaker. Things could have gone either way at the end, but the last game was a razor thin 16-14 victory by Morgan and Marcin. It’s exciting stuff and I’m very pleased that we have this classic from the SoCal on YouTube. Top players do their best at ”crunch” times and this match features inspired play by all four men.
Marcin Rozpedski & Morgan Evans vs Matt Staub & Wes Gabrielsen SoCal Classic
* I sent Wesley an email and he shared his thoughts on the match.
Wes Gabrielsen Q&A
1. You played in many exciting matches last year, Wes. One of them was at Encinitas, Ca. last June. It was a good battle…I am wondering if the open MD Finals at the SoCal Classic stands out as a memorable one for you?
WG – It was definitely a memorable match. All the guys played well and the points were epic. Although Matt and I didn’t end the match with the result we wanted, we felt good about our effort and the competition was great.
2. You were teamed up with Matt Staub at SoCal. I watched your YouTube videos, but I don’t remember ever having seen Matt and you being matched up before. Was this your first time hitting with Matt? How do you like his skill set?
WG – We had played twice before this tournament together. The USAPA SW Regional and the LeMaster Davison Classic. In Gigi’s event we had been defeated pretty soundly by Marcin and Morgan so we were happy about our performance in SoCal. Also, Matt is one of the most consistent players in the game. Great soft hands, a consistent dinker, and a stellar strategist. I always enjoy being on the court with my good friend Matt. He’s a great guy and a fierce competitor.
3. Matt and you got into the finals at Encinitas. Your opponents were Morgan Evans and Marcin Rozpedski. When I watched the games I noticed something about Morgan…He is a machine at the non-volley line. His stroke is almost hypnotic in it’s regularity. Evans never seems to miss in a dinking contest. Usually, while this is going on, his partner would be moving around erratically. Back and forth, back and forth, Rozpedski was looking to poach. Was it a challenge for you to stay alert with all the ”shaking and baking” going on? You, Wes, didn’t look to be distracted by Marcin’s rapid moves or Morgan’s finesse. Is there a drill for keeping in the zone?
WG – I agree with you. Morgan was an absolute dinking machine in that match. Both he and Matt were. And it is hard to avoid watching Marcin and his dancing on the court. There isn’t really a drill to focus on staying in the zone. Although the more matches you play the more you can practice focusing on one aspect of the game.
4. Last question on the match, Wes…It was a close one, but Matt and you lost to Morgan and Marcin at the SoCal Classic. However, you and Kyle Yates beat the desert guys in the MD Finals at the US Nationals in November, 2016. The tournament circuit is heating up. Do you look forward to the possibility of more big matches against the Evans/Rozpedski team in 2017?
WG – Yes, Kyle and I were lucky enough to pull out close matches at TOC and Nationals against them. I hope to progress in tournaments far enough to play them again. They are a formidable duo who I expect to be in the medals in every event they enter. My hope against a stellar team like that is to not have to play them until a medal round – not earlier!!!!
* Interesting…you know, Wesley’s hope may come to pass…A Marcin & Morgan vs Wes and whom ever Gabrielsen has a partner, medal match may be coming up in a few weeks. The US Open from Naples, Fl begins April 23rd. The best men’s teams will be there and I’m looking forward to watching the live feed. I have no idea who will medal in MD action but I know it will be exciting action…the best guy’s games you can see in our pickle universe!
A Monster Match…what are the key ingredients? If it’s men’s singles, obviously you need Marcin Rozpedski and at least one other player. What should that other player be like?…How about a young tennis player from Yakima, Wa. who quickly gained a reputation in singles play as soon as he discovered our sport. How about a fellow that narrowly lost an epic match against top ten singles star Kurtis Campbell in a tourney in Jan 2016 and then won in a rematch against Kurtis last May. Suppose it is a player that then improved enough to win gold in MD singles at the SoCal Classic? What if this man followed that up with a singles medal at TOC? If all these things occurred to the same fellow then we know he has the potential for monsterdom. Tyson McGuffin is the player I have been describing and he was the challenger vs Marcin Rozpedski in the finals of MD Open Singles at the US Nationals last November. Tyson and Marcin’s match was, in my opinion, the best ”one on one” pickleball match of the year. See if you agree with me when you check out the link below.
* Here is a note about the video. Morgan Evans, who does the commentary, has a distorted sense of humour…which I like. I watch all of his videos, no matter who is playing, just to hear Morgan give his unique pb perspective. If you appreciate individuality be sure to check out all his videos at his Desert Pickleball Academy site. Marcin says Morgan is good for our game. I agree and I think you will too.
* The match is also available at the USAPA channel of EnetLive TV. You can access their archives by becoming a member (Basic membership is free). Google up EnetLive TV and follow the prompts.
Marcin Rozpedski vs Tyson McGuffin US Nationals VIII
Tyson McGuffin and Marcin Rozpedski met again in singles medal play at the Lakes Spring event that Marcin hosted earlier this month. Marcin came out the winner over Tyson after a long battle. Each of the 3 games they played was decided by only 2 points. After his loss Tyson McGuffin was supposed to face Kyle Yates, but his gruelling match with Marcin was too much. Tyson was cramping badly and had to forfeit. Kyle went on to play Marcin and managed to take the gold in a 3 game match. It was an unexpected result and a crazy day for all three singles phenoms!
All of the top 4 in men’s singles will be competing at the US Open. It will be interesting to see if one of the four will win the gold….Florida native Kyle Yates will have his home state fans cheering him on. Will that support be enough to propel him to victory?…. Tyson McGuffin is young, strong and getting better all the time. Will Florida be his golden sunshine state?…Or what about Daniel Moore who lives in Japan. He is making a long journey to attend this event. Daniel did well at Naples last year, especially in doubles, perhaps 2017 will be his time to top the podium in singles….Then there is Marcin Rozpedski. He is the #1 seed and the defending champion at the US Open. Marcin elevated tournament play to a higher level last year. Irregardless of what happens this year, Marcin Rozpedski’s impressive streak of singles victories will be a challenge for anyone to match. It will be interesting to see if any player is up to that monstrously difficult task.
What are the secrets to Marcin Rozpedski’s skillful play? You can get an idea by checking out the link below. Marcin has some instructional videos that have helped me in my own game. Here is the link to the third one in the series. You can check out the whole series at the Lakes Country Club site.
Marcin’s Third Tip https://youtu.be/TEI02eTZTBA
It’s appropriate that Rozpedski would not bring an ordinary paddle to a monster match. The blood red Blade by Engage is Marcin’s weapon of choice.
Marcin’s Paddle https://youtu.be/1Bqn-jMo5ko
Here is a quick look at Marcin and Carley Rozpedski’s 7 year old son, Chance Rozpedski. In the video he is getting some positive strokes from Wes Gabrielsen at the US Nationals last November. Chance will be someone to watch for when he gets into the youth brackets.
Chance Rozpedski https://youtu.be/jXwt8xjRq6c
Victoria’s own Ian Daniel was recently down at Palm Desert and met twice with Marcin Rozpedski. Once for a lesson and again when Marcin qualified Ian to be an IPTPA certified pickleball instructor. Thanks to Marcin for putting up with my pal Ian, and congratulations to Ian Daniel for becoming one of the few Canadians to be professionally certified.
You can attend one of Ian’s instruction sessions by calling Cedar Hill Rec Center 250-475-7121….For private lessons you can email Ian Daniel – firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s about it for my look at the Polish Monster…I had fun talking with you by phone Marcin. Thanks for taking the time from your super busy schedule to fit me in. I’ll be looking forward to seeing all your matches that make it to video…Thanks also to Wes Gabrielsen for his contribution to this edition. I’ll be including an interesting baseball story by Wes in a future edition.
Send any questions or comments you have for Marcin to my email address and I will forward to him. Until next time…
Thanks for the game,