Racketlon Reaches the American East Coast

Revision History:
2007-08-08: First published
2007-08-10: Added article "Diary of a Racketlon Rookie."

Cliff Wenn, the President of the recently established US Racketlon Federation (see fresh webpage on www.usaracketlon.org ), reports below from a breakthrough Racketlon tournament held in the town of Wellesley (near Boston) on the east coast of the USA.

Further below follows an amusing article first published on www.theswellesleyreport.com by one of the participants of the tournament, Bob Brown, a Welleslely resident professional reporter and editor. Bob is (together with his wife) the co-owner of www.theswellesleyreport.com and also the news editor of a high tech business magazine "Network World" (see their Website).


Our 1st Official US Racketlon tournament was a great success. Initially, I was looking for 8 to 16 players, but in the end we had 30 players and a main draw of 32, with a full consolation draw. Wilson Sporting Goods was the equipment sponsor.

Also a photographer and reporter were present from the local newspaper & even a reporter from a Boston sports radio talk show who will be airing a special segment on Racketlon in the USA in the next month or so.

Play was exciting with several games being decided by 1 point. Each of these matches just missed out on the "gummi service". One of the semi-finals was decided in tennis by 1 point, with the winning point being scored by a net shot.

Feedback from all the participants was very positive and all said they enjoyed playing Racketlon and would come and play again. They were all asking us when and where the next tournament was.


Main Draw:
Winner - Cliff Wenn +30 (tt:21-13 ba:21-2 sq:21-18 te:-)
Finalist - Charles Gertler (Number 14 US Junior Squash Player U-19)

Consolation Draw:
Winner - Xun Wang +21 (tt:21-15 ba:21-15 sq:21-12 te:-)
Finalist - Mike Milevshci


Diary of a Racketlon Rookie
by Bob Brown

I knew I was toast the second I saw his grip.

Zhiping You, my opening-round opponent in the first official Racketlon tournament in the U.S., wielded his table tennis paddle as if holding a pen. Yes, the dreaded penhold that I’ve only seen one place before: the Olympics.

This wasn’t quite the Olympics, but perhaps is the start of something big. This past weekend’s 1st Wellesley/Maugus Racketlon Open in Wellesley attracted 30 players of widely varying skills who competed in table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis. Participants played the sports in that order, progressing from smallest to largest racquets.

My first opponent’s specialty turned out to be table tennis. He asked me for mine and I replied: “Running and basketball.” He laughed, then gave me the worst paddling this side of a fraternity hazing. Final score: 21-5, and my opponent took it personally that I even got 5. I was just happy playing a game of ping pong in which the ball wasn't hitting the ceiling and in which I wasn't crashing into lamps like I've done in past games in friends' basements.

We moved on to badminton, which proved to be no picnic either. The shuttlecocks were flying higher and faster than I’d ever seen in the backyard. Seen on the sidelines were shiny carrying bags designed to safeguard players’ personal badminton racquets but that stylewise would have made Newbury Street shoppers proud. Final score in my match, with me on the losing end: 21-2. At this point, my opponent started apologizing for the margin of defeat, noting that he needed to go for as big a win as possible given the system of cumulative scoring across the four sports.

On to squash, a sport I’d never played. Had never even been on a squash court or held a racquet. I spent the night before the event reading up on the rules and watching YouTube videos of classic matches. The ball bounced my way a few times and I went down to defeat in a squeaker, 21-8. It could have been worse, as I could have been matched up against Cliff Wenn on the squash court.

Wenn’s the head squash pro at Wellesley’s Maugus Club, where the event took place. The former head college squash coach also organized and won the tourney, topping nationally ranked squash player Charles Gertler of Weston (shown here on the right, Wenn on left). Wenn learned racquet sports growing up in India and Singapore.

The squash coach has emerged as a real mover and shaker in the nascent world of Racketlon. He is president of Racketlon USA and has plans in the works to coordinate with the U.S. associations for the four major racquet sports to urge their support for this relatively new sport. Racketlon got its start in Finland and Sweden and tournaments have been held in these and several other countries.

Wenn said he would have been happy with even 10 or a dozen participants and was very pleased to get close to three times that, including a handful from out of state. “The feedback from the players has been tremendous,” he said. “They would all want to play again, and in fact most of them were asking when the next tournament is.”

This past weekend’s Racketlon event kicked off with a short speech by Wenn, who congratulated the participants for being “part of sports history.” Then a raffle was held, with winners grabbing a fancy badminton racquet and a new badminton documentary. While the day got off to a relaxed start (players were trusted to rank their own skill levels, ranging from novice to top tournament-level player), many of the matches grew intense.

For me, the event ended on the first of its two days. I did manage to scrape together a win in tennis vs. my first opponent, but got wiped out in all four events in the consolation round.

I’m not sure, but I think given this was the first such tourney in the U.S., that I’m actually the 30th ranked Racketlon player in the country. The sore and quivering right arm I sported the next day was a small price to pay for that.