Gentleman at the table – Pasha AZS

It was said that the finals of major events were burning him which is why he won so few of them. Andrzej Grubba is, however, the best Polish table tennis player in history, who has been linked to AZS clubs in Gdansk for half of his career. Commemorative awards will be given in his name for the first time at AMP.

Andrzej Grubba was born on May 14, 1958 in Brzeźno Wielki in the family of a teacher. Initially, he tried his hand at soccer, handball and running, but he did not stay in any of these disciplines for long. Nothing came of later plans to study medicine. Table tennis turned out to be his true love, which in the early seventies still had the status of club game in Poland.

15-year-old Grubba was invited to AZS at Gdańsk University by Małgorzata Kucharska (Skuratowicz), Poland’s leading table tennis player of the period and mother of Leszek Kucharski. Soon Kucharsky, who is smaller than the year and has a height of 20 cm, joined the team, and their fates for a long time intertwined. Both introduced Polish table tennis to the salons, filled the halls with fans and promoted the Polish style of playing based on backhand serve and backball all over the world. Thanks to this technique, Grubba defeated the Chinese at the World Cup in Seoul before the Olympic Games in Seoul, leaving the whole world stunned.

Once in the AMŚ and once in the European Championships

The first international success came during the Middlesbrough World Academy Championships (1980). The Poles, along with Kucharski and Grubba, won six medals there, including Grubbie, who had already taken his first 26 national championships (!), and won three zlotys (including the individual championship). As mentioned by Polish table tennis historian and member of the AZS Historical Committee, Wiesław Pięta, it was a turning point in the history of this game in Poland.

The first significant achievement among the seniors was the European Championship in a mixed match (with Dutchman Bettina Friesekop) which he won two years later in Budapest. During this year’s AMP Finals, we’ll be celebrating 40 years of that event, which – oddly enough – was Grubby’s only singles victory in the international tournament. Few today remember that he has a secret, too. He played with his right hand even though he was left-handed. During the match, he manages to move the racket to the other hand.

Despite the fact that there were very few brilliant victories, brilliant achievements permanently marked Grubba in the history of table tennis. His achievements include three World Championship medals, twelve European Championship medals, a World Cup winner in 1988, over 10 years in the top ten world rankings and the European Club Cup twice. He won first place for AZS AWF Gdańsk at the end of the main stage of his career at AZS.

Best in the team

He was associated with the Azetes club in the years 1976-1985, and then in the 1987-1988 season. During this time, he won the Polish national team championship seven times. Some said he was much better in the team competition than in the individual competitions. He spent the rest of his rich career – including the past ten years – in Germany, where he was also well liked and offered citizenship (which he refused).

Grubba participated in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics three times. He made it to the 1/8 finals twice in singles. The closest medal that became his unfulfilled dream was in Seoul when table tennis debuted on the Olympic program. In the doubles quarter-finals (of course with Kucharski), the podium was less than two wins with the gold medalists later. The score was 1-1 in sets and 19:19 in the decider. We lost to the Chinese 19:21 because our nerves were eating us. It could have been one way, it could have been another, but we could not deal with such nerve endings, unfortunately – on the pages of the site, Kucharski said, it was because of mental problems that they lost their chances. … eight medals of the most important events.

Grubba was an exceptionally sensitive person. He was an example of an athlete, distinguished by extraordinary diligence and ambition. However, he suffered every long and hard defeat and always put very high demands on himself. – I was born to lose well – had to say about himself. – He was impressed by the impeccable game technology, outstanding tactical sense, but he did not become a world champion. In the decisive moments of the game, his weak psyche felt himself, he was terrified of failure – he wrote about it on the pages of the Polish Olympic Committee.


Prior to the first round matches, Grob would often bet that… he would be eliminated immediately. However, discover a better way to de-stress, which can still be seen today in all table tennis players in the world. It was he who introduced the famous character before the event into his sport. – I needed to play under pressure, it raised my fighting spirit. But I tried to relax a little, because too much tension is crippling me. My steps helped me. By the way, it had a psychological effect, because when the opponent saw that I was running, he thought that I was probably good – said in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza, the only table tennis player who won the Przegląd Sportowy referendum for the best athlete and was called a gentleman at the table (at the crucial moment, He was able to repay the crucial points of his defeat of a stubborn and unjust opponent.)

After the end of his sports career, he became a coach, was also the sports director of the Polish Table Tennis Federation and a member of the governing bodies of the International Federation. He died in Sopot on the morning of July 21, 2005, losing the battle against cancer. He was only 47 years old. His name is, among other things, the PZTS training center, where this year’s AMP finals will be held, and the main corridor of the Gdansk Academy of Physical Education and Sports, from which he graduated in 1987.

Now AZS will celebrate his memory. During the Academic Championship Finals for Poland, special commemorative awards will be given to the best female and male competitor of the event. – This is a great opportunity to remember the personality of the greatest table tennis player not only in the AZS and in Poland, but also in the world at one time. The special prizes we funded at AMP will be presented for the first time and we believe they will stay in this event forever. We are glad that the best tennis players and table tennis players will visit the seaside again after the break – said Piotr Walczak, AZS Principal Council Member and President of the AZS University of Gdańsk, which will host the competition.

The materials of Przegląd Sportowy, Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita, TVP Sport and Wiesław Pięta publications were used. Photo: PZTS.

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