Who is the world's most difficult Racketlon opponent?
(Answer: Lloyd Pettiford of Wales)

First define 'difficult'. But whether we are talking about a player's standard or 'difficult' (awkward) in terms of 'game delaying, feather tampering, squash ball up the back-siding, out-calling, downright determined' many people would come up with the same name. (ask someone who I might be talking about if a name doesn't spring to mind). But those people would be wrong about who is the most difficult opponent…let me explain.

I recently played in a tournament against an opponent who has been described as a 'very nice bloke' by his friends and 'a bit competitive' also by his friends. He doesn't have enemies as far as I can tell. We became involved in a 'situation'. Now I have been involved in 'situations' before, although usually in my pre-racketlon, squash days, and usually I would look back and think 'I was wrong'. The difference this time was that various witnesses to events suggested that I wasn't wrong and I still feel mightily aggrieved by events now.

Of course the specifics of the 'situation' are disputable and I may be wrong this time too, but that isn't really relevant to my argument. My point here is that even IF I was right, who was most affected by the 'situation'? Well I was the one who conceded the match, on the principle that if my opponent wanted to win that much, I couldn't be bothered, so it was me. (For a variety of reasons I am quite comfortable with this decision; if not ideal it may have prevented a 'situation' becoming a 'serious situation' so perhaps it was for the best. I went on to have a very enjoyable tournament in the lower half of the draw losing 3 matches by a combined total of 11 points!)

But in the manner of Southpark's Stan, as I drove away from the venue I thought 'You know I learned something today'. Simply put, that whilst we must have an opponent in racketlon (and there are those who we think we might beat if we could just improve our table tennis etc), in reality we're mostly trying to improve our own game. Most of us have no ambition (or possibility!) to become world champion and so, it could be argued, be it physically, mentally or in terms of technique our yardstick for improvement is - in reality - primarily ourselves.

Lloyd Pettiford of Wales.
Photo: BMM

And that's when I realised that it actually doesn't matter who is right or wrong. It's not feather-tampering, arguing with refs or gamesmanship that matter, it's how you respond to them yourself because there are 5,999,999,999 people you cannot change and control in this world and only one that you definitely can. And at that point I realised that racketlon's most difficult opponent is Lloyd Pettiford; I may, of course, 'lose' to Lloyd again but I should thank the 'nice bloke' mentioned above who was involved in my 'situation'. He has made me realise the ever-present danger I present to myself regardless of right and wrong. It has not killed me so therefore makes me stronger.

Lloyd Pettiford


The above article first appeared on www.englishracketlon.org and is reproduced here for increased visibility after minor edits by the author. By courtesy of the author and English Racketlon.