The First Estonian Champions

The first four Estonian Racketlon Champions were appointed at the inaugural Estonian Racketlon Championships held in Estonian Racketlon centre Pärnu during Christmas (25-26 Dec) Riho Sillaots, President of the Estonian Racketlon Federation and the director of the tournament, reports.

Estonian Champions Toomas Vallikivi and Külli Iste.
Photo: Riho Sillaots

On the men's side the champion is 32-year-old Toomas Vallikivi from Estonian capital Tallinn. He took part in his first Racketlon tournament (also in Pärnu) two years ago and then his first world tour event in Lahti 2006, where he landed on a runner-up position in the C Class, which seems to have given him the inspiration for increased focus on Racketlon. Since September this year he has started to train especially with Racketlon in mind, he says, and he even went to Vienna in November to take part in the Austrian Open, where he, again, advanced quite far in the C class - losing to Germany's Werner Seel in the semifinal by two points only (tt:5-21 ba:21-12 sq:21-2 te:7-21). As hinted by the figures against Seel his profile is badminton/squash, which is further emphasized by the fact that he did not lose a single set(!) in any of these two sports in the Austrian Open. He started his racket career with badminton at the age of 7, which he kept focusing on for about 10 years, which e.g. led to an Estonian Championship title in one of the teenager classes. Nowadays, however, he feels that squash is his strongest sport. Although he took it up for real only 3 years ago(!) he is currently playing in the top league in Estonia. (Another piece of evidence, adding to that of Jonathon Power (see article), that badminton is a good start for squash players.)

The Estonian ladies' champion is Külli Iste, also from Tallinn. She too comes from badminton, which she has been playing at the very top national level. Unlike Kati Kraaving (currently away due to pregnancy), who shocked the Racketlon community by winning the 2006 Finnish Open in fierce competition with the very best, Iste has not yet taken part in a Racketlon world ranking event. Interestingly, Iste lost to silver medalist Diana Legušš (Estonia's young squash no.1!) but still managed to win the tournament. This was possible due to the tournament format used, the so called "Swiss System" (see e.g. Wikipedia article). According to the Wikipedia article just referred to "the principle of a Swiss tournament is that each player will be pitted against another player who has done as well (or as poorly) as him- or herself." In that sense it is reminiscent of the Monrad system currently becoming very popular on the Racketlon world tour, although without the knock-out aspect. Instead, in the Swiss system, a loss in the early rounds does not exclude a player from winning the whole tournament.

In the Veterans' class (for players born 1960 or earlier; i.e. "O46" according to FIR definitions) the gold went to Kari Tapio Puttonen and in the Juniors' class (for players born 1988 or later; i.e. "U18") it went to Ken-Kristjan Toomjõe; not unexpectedly since this 13-year-old regularly adheres to a training schedule containing 2 sessions per day(!) (Racketlon with an emphasis on tennis).

Two of the champions are aiming to take part at the Swedish Open; Toomas Vallikivi in the Men's C class and Ken-Kristjan Toomjõe in the U16 class (see the Swedish Open entry list on the tournament homepage). In total, there are 5 Estonians on the entry list reflecting rising interest in a new emerging Racketlon country (for some more background, see newsitem from this summer when the Estonian Racketlon Federation was established.)

Head Uut Aastat, Eesti maa!

/Hans Mullamaa
(half Estonian, and quite possibly, a participant at the next Estonian Championships...)

Results from the first Estonian Championships 25-26/12 2006

1. Toomas Vallikivi
2. Alexey Manuyko
3. Margus Kask
4. Marek Pärtel
5. Taavi Himmist
6. Peeter Viigimets
7. Sten Lillemägi
8. Kari Tapio Puttonen ( Pärnu)
9. Oliver Hanschmidt
10. Ken-Kristjan Toomjõe ( Pärnu)
11. Rain Puhk
12. Eston Prints ( Pärnu)
13. Raivo Valk
14. Aivar Soonberg
15. Indrek Luts
16. Hillar Pesti
17. Kalle Kaljurand
18. Taavi Tammsaar ( Pärnu)
19. Kaur Erki
20. Kalle Kukk
21. Andre-Kristopher Toomjõe ( Pärnu)
22. Markus Veiltkop
23. Artur Ivask
24. Eino Vaarala ( Pärnu)
25. Kristjan Kaljurand
26. Tiit Talumaa
27. Arvo Mere ( Pärnu)
28. Jaanus Reisik

1. Iste Külli
2. Legušš Diana
3. Laur Annely
4. Kaljurand Kaisa
5. Sieberk Anu ( Pärnu)
6. Ilves Piret
7. Kuusk Katrin
8. Pesti Virge
9. Kuningas Reet ( Pärnu)

1. Ken-Kristjan Toomjõe ( Pärnu)
2. Andre-Kristopher Toomjõe ( Pärnu)
3. Kristjan Kaljurand

1. Kari Tapio Puttonen ( Pärnu)
2. Pesti Hillar
3. Kaljurand Kalle