Another Nordic Country on the Racketlon
Yet another new country is emerging on the Racketlon map;
Estonia, a republic by the Baltic Sea with some 1,3 million
inhabitants. And, of course, the home country of rapidly emerging
racketlon star Kati Kraaving (currently no. 5 on the IRF ranking and the sensational winner of
the very prestigious Finnish Open earlier this year - see report - in competition with some
of the best players in the World).
On the 20th of June the Estonian Racketlon Federation (Eesti Racketloni Liit - ERL) was formally founded with Riho Sillaots, the owner of the Pärnu Squash-club, as its President. Another notable member of the board is Kaia Kanepi, no. 65 on the Women's Tennis World Ranking. (See her homepage at www.kaiakanepi.com )
Kaia Kanepi. A member of the Racketlon board.
(Photo: www.kaiakanepi.com )
Although not much news have so-far managed to leak out of the country, no less than four racketlon tournaments have taken place in Estonia, all organised by Sillaots in the city of Pärnu by the Baltic Sea. The first one emerged in 2002 already(!) and attracted 16 participants. Sillaots informs that the winner of this first Estonian racketlon tournament was Kari Tapio Puttonen (Finland), second was Timo Ots (Estonia) and third Matts-Erik Lindqvist (Finland) (Lindqvist origins from Åhland and Swedish is his native tongue).
Potentially, Pärnu could be an attractive target for the international racketlon crowd, with its picturesque atmosphere and location by the beach. During the last period of Estonian independence (between the first and second world wars, before the Soviet occupation started) it was a very fashionable place to go during summer for e.g. the Swedish aristocracy and the area was known as the "Nordic Riviera" (while Estonia itself counted as one of the "Nordic countries"). Admittedly, however, it is questionable whether the Pärnu sport centre facilities are developed enough to host a fully fledged World Ranking event - so-far. However, Estonia is considered one of the most dynamic economies of Eastern Europe and is known to have had the highest economic growth of all countries in Europe(!) during some of the years following its recovered independence in 1991. So, who knows? Maybe inspiration is running high enough to one day build a "racketlon centre" in Pärnu (or maybe in the capital Tallinn?). (The Racketlon World is still waiting for someone to build the the first sport centre especially designed for racketlon. It would not come as a big surprise if it happens in one of the emerging racketlon countries of Eastern Europe, who need to look over their infrastructure for racket sport anyway - and who seem more open to adopt a new sport like racketlon than some of the more rigid established countries of the west...)
Picturesque Pärnu by the Baltic Sea. Home of the Estonian Racketlon Federation.
Check out the homepage (Estonian language only) of the Estonian Racketlon Federation at www.racketlon.ee .
Welcome to the Racketlon community, Estonia!
/Hans Mullamaa (half Estonian)