Myrtle Beach tennis hall of famer changing the game with a first-in-the-U.S. tool

Renata Marcinkowska – shown here with her patented hybrid tennis court – was inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in December.
Renata Marcinkowska – shown here with her patented hybrid tennis court – was inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in December. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Renata Marcinkowska’s contributions to the game of tennis as a player recently earned her a spot in the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.

However, the Myrtle Beach resident is far from done.

Now a teaching professional, the native of Poland trains players on her Dual Surface Tennis Court – the first half-hard, half-clay court in the United States – off Socastee Blvd.

She had the court built in 2010, a few years after the 2007 Battle of Surfaces exhibition match in which Roger Federer played rival Rafael Nadal on a hybrid clay and grass court.

Marcinkowska’s idea for the court came during a friendly match in not-so-ideal conditions.

“I played with a friend of mine – he and I used to play in the snow, in the rain, you name it,” said Marcinkowska, who was inducted into the hall of fame Dec. 10, 2016. “One day we played and his part of the court was dry and mine was wet, you know. And I saw the two different bounces of the ball, like on the wet side was quicker than the dry side. And it was a lot more fun, you know, because of the difference of bounces. So then I thought, what would happen if there were two different surfaces on one court, and I went home and I wrote the idea down.”

Soon after, Marcinkowska built a prototype, hired a patent attorney and was awarded a patent for the court, which is modeled after similar ones in Europe.

“What’s so good about this surface is that you can improve a lot faster,” said Marcinkowska. “And especially for juniors who have problems with focusing and concentration, in a hybrid it comes naturally. You focus because the ball bounces different so your eyes naturally focus better.”

Not only does the court help players improve their techniques, stroke production and footwork, but it also benefits teachers.

According to Marcinkowska, the hybrid court allows instructors the opportunity to teach on different surfaces easily, provides a fun teaching environment and presents the opportunity to create better, smarter players.

As a retired professional tennis player, Marcinkowska uses her previous experience of playing in tournaments around the world to teach her students. She was ranked top 115 in the world in singles and top 75 in doubles, and won the World Championship IN 35-year-old doubles twice. Marcinkowska was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 35-year-old division in 2003 and 2004, and played in Grand Slam championships.

Now, through the use of the hybrid court Marcinkowska is able to teach private lessons and host special events and tournaments.

“The best job in the world is to be a professional tennis player,” said Marcinkowska. “But if you can’t do that because you’re too old then obviously the second-best job is a teaching pro. And I love what I do. Tennis is everything I know. I sleep, eat and breathe tennis.”

“Being able to help players with what they do, that is very, very important to me. And, you know, sometimes it’s little things [that] make a big difference. I think that’s the key in tennis – that everybody can teach tennis and it’s good, but I am trying to make that little difference for someone.”

Marcinkowska also puts on occasional tournaments featuring the unique surface, although several have been canceled in recent years, including her signature Hybrid Open, which was canceled in 2015 due to the flood and scrapped in 2016 because of the effects of Hurricane Matthew.

“Because of flooding this year we were evacuated for three weeks and all of my supplies and everything that was in the downstairs was ruined, so the tournament couldn’t happen,” Marcinkowska said. “And something happened the year before and so I hope that this year [we] will get to have it. I’m going to change dates.”

Of course, the recent setbacks have not stopped Marcinkowska from creating plans for future events using the court.

“My hope – it hasn’t happened yet – my dream is to build a big event in Myrtle Beach,” said Marcinkowska. “I can’t think of a better sporting event than to have a big event on a hybrid. You know, have a couple of great players. And, you know, everybody can watch and it would be nice to have a charity event where the proceeds go to a … charity, whether it’s for [the] poor … or for cancer or heart disease. That remains to be seen. But I think it would be great to have such an event.”

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic

If you play

Phone number: 803-524-3308 or 843-294-4411

Address: 3833 Socastee Blvd. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588 next to Glasstec and the Rat Hole bar

Email: info@hybridtennis.com

Lessons: Lessons can be scheduled by contacting Marcinkowska.

Packages: Custom tennis packages are provided for three-, five- and seven-day options with oceanfront accomodations.