p1440 Developmental Team: Salava, Mach

p1440 Developmental Program: Tomas Salava, Martin Mach

The choice, while not an easy one, was, at the very least, a simple one for Martin Mach. The 28-year-old had just finished up an indoor volleyball career in the Czech Republic, and he was left with two options: Work, or take up an offer from Tomas Salava to play beach volleyball in the United States.

“One day, Tomas sent me a message, ‘You want to try?’” Mach said at a p1440 Developmental Team practice. “I’m a former professional indoor volleyball player, and after my career, I started work, and Tomas’ offer was better than work.”

Yes, typically training twice a week, in Hermosa Beach, with an armada of some of the best coaches in the world – Marcos Miranda, Marcio Sicoli, Jon Daze, all of whom have Olympic medals – is better than the rote 9-5 office job.

Only, there’s one minor problem: He can’t jump. Not really. Not yet.

“It’s pretty hard for me because I can’t jump in the sand,” Mach said, laughing. “I can’t use my legs. It’s too hard. But I’m still enjoying every minute I’m in the U.S.A.”

Indeed, his time in the U.S. thus far is an enviable one. There is the free training at OC Fast Twitch, a functional, individualized training center in Orange County specializing in beach volleyball. There is the coaching, the high-level training. And there is his partner, Salava, the 35-year-old who played in his first FIVB qualifier in 2010, a veteran who has played against a World Championship finalist in Christiaan Varenhorst, Olympic silver medalists in Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, and rising stars such as Brazilians Vitor Felipe, Alvaro Filho, Guto Carvalhaes.

They’re a good mesh, these two, the indoor player turning to beach, the beach player finally giving his beach career the attention it has long deserved.

“For the first time, it’s the first real opportunity to have focused practices,” Salava said. “For us, as a team, we’re the second Czech team that has the opportunity to train on a regular basis abroad the whole year and have really great coaches and really great competition. That gives us hope and to use it as much as we can. That’s the goal for us, to push us as much as we can.”

The mid- and long-term goals are to get onto the world tour this year, to represent Czech. As for the short-term?

Jumping is a good place to start. Rising through the p1440 developmental ranks is another.

When it comes down to it, though, as Salava says, “I’m trying to use every minute as much as possible.”