The scary thing about Alex Marcinkowski’s tennis game is the simple fact that his Greater Spokane League opponents may not recognize just how good it really is.
The Gonzaga Prep senior, arguably the best singles player in the league since he stepped on the court as a freshman, makes it look easy during his school matches.
“I really like the team aspect of playing high school tennis,” he said. “I like the fact that I have great friends on the team – I don’t get that when I play tournaments on the weekend. I just try to keep the same level of focus for every match I play, whether it’s a tournament or it’s a high school match.”
High school play saw Marcinkowski place fourth at last year’s State 4A tournament. Tournament play has seen him rise to a top 10 ranking in the Pacific Northwest and earned him a scholarship to play at the University of Oregon.
“I’m as excited about the prospect of playing tennis there today as I was when I signed my letter of intent back in November,” he said. “I am looking forward to playing every day against guys who are better than I am, having them kick my butt day in and day out until I get better.”
That drive to improve his game isn’t anything new.
“The thing about Alex is that he keeps working hard on his game,” Prep coach Christian Birrer said. “He breaks his game down every offseason and works on the weakest part of his game to make it better.”
Marcinkowski, who won the district championship on Thursday, said the state tournament easily is his favorite part of the season, but it’s major departure from the level of play he sees during the regular season.
“It’s a different level of tennis,” he said. “I don’t want to knock Spokane at all, but you don’t see tennis on the same level here that you do in Portland or Seattle.
“I’m looking forward to state. This year I’m looking for second place. The No. 1 player in the state is just so much better than I am and always has been – in every way. He (Mitch Stewart of Federal Way) is the No. 1 guy in the state and the No. 1 player in the nation.”
Marcinkowski said he’ll let up a little on his tournament schedule this summer, but not his workload.
“Last summer there was so much pressure because I was still being recruited and needed to keep pushing hard,” he said. “This summer that’s settled, but I still need to keep working. The weak part of my game has always been my conditioning and I will keep working hard to improve my strength and my stamina.
“I don’t want to get to Oregon in the fall and have to be up at 5 a.m. to work on it. I want to be ready to play hard as soon as I get there.”