Racket sports fans and players alike have been looking for the ultimate racket sports skills test, and, as a result, Racketlon was born. But which countries have taken this sport to new levels and made a home for it?
Because Racketlon originated in Finland in the mid-1980s, it has found a permanent home there and has spread to neighboring Scandinavian countries. There, the sport has grown in popularity and has embedded itself into the countries’ cultures, becoming one of the most played racquet sports there. However, this up-and-coming underdog sport continues to grow beyond European countries.
Racketlon has garnered the support of a large following of fans and players. It’s in its way to becoming one of the most widely played racquet sports in Europe, and it is quickly spreading across the world.
Here, we catch you up to the history of Racketlon in the countries where it’s played most, their governing bodies, as well as, some of their most popular tournaments.
These are 10 countries where Racketlon is played.
Finland, the birthplace of Racketlon itself, has enjoyed domination of the sport in the early years. Some argue that this domination was the result of the country’s head start in the sport. However, the long-standing championship crown was lost to the country’s biggest competition, Sweden, after the game picked up in popularity across surrounding Scandinavian countries.
Finland has produced some of the most talented players who have set the stage to the competition today. From the legacies of Mikko Karkkainen to Michaela Bjornstrom; Finland players have set the scene of the elite level of Racketlon.
The Finnish Racketlon Federation is the country’s Racketlon governing body, and it currently runs the national IWT Finnish Open held in the capital, Helsinki, every year. The tournament rankings and points count for the overall FIR rankings, as well as, the FIR World Tour Race. Currently, Luka Penttinen is the only Finnish player ranking in the top 10 FIR World Tour Race.
Guided by the country’s Racketlon governing body, Svenska Racketlon Forbundent, Sweden has been a member of the FIR since 2006.
The country hosts the CHA Spring Open played in Gothenburg, and the IWT Casino Heroes Swedish Open which is played in Malmo. The CHA Spring Open rankings and points count towards the FIR rankings, and the larger IWT Swedish Open rankings count towards both the FIR and the FIR World Tour Rankings.
Racketlon was warmly received in the country in the late 1980s, with the first organized Racketlon competition being organized by a Swede. In 1990, the country succeeded in organizing the first national championships, and it saw around 200 players take part.
This is the current home of the sport; where the Federation of International Racketlon headquarters is located. Plus, the 2018 FIR Racketlon World Championships, in singles and doubles, was held in Switzerland.
Led by the Swiss Racketlon Federation, the country has a long-standing history of excellence in the sport; for instance, in 2018, the nation ranked 2nd in the most trophies won after Great Britain. The country has benefited from being in the hub of Racketlon competitiveness, as well as, around countries where Racketlon is popular.
With access to competitive tournaments and close ties to the international governing body of the sport, Switzerland is slowly building its profile to become a country to be reckoned with in world championships.
In 2018, Austria cemented its strength in Racketlon by dominating the elite category of the sport. Under their managing body, Racketlon Federation Austria, advancing Racketlon in the country has been productive, as players have been able to rank competitively in international tournaments.
Currently, the country hosts the Austrian Open, an international tournament which is part of the FIR World Tour Race.
5. United Kingdom
Despite being a latecomer in joining the Racketlon world, the UK has managed to be a force to be reckoned with at the world stage. In 2018, the country took home an Elite level silver medal, as well as, several titles in the singles and doubles tournaments. In addition, the junior division is also showing great promise in talent by dominating the junior age groups.
In 2002, the country hosted the first national tournament called the Scottish Open, with the event attracting a humble 20 players. Since then, the country has seen that number grow each year, as well as, an increase in the players’ level. Following this major event, a UK national was asked to join the FIR as the country’s representative.
From 2006 onwards, the country saw extensive growth. The first doubles only tournament was established, and it was a success, attracting some of the most established players from previous competitions. The UK tour also took off followed closely by the first ever English Championships.
Such growth prompted the creation of the UK Racketlon (formerly known as the English Racketlon Association), which was set up by well-known players of the sport – Ray Jordan, Stuart Foster, Gary Tovey, and Keith Lesser. From this point, the association organized collective efforts in advancing the sport through communication and marketing.
The fruition of these efforts came to life when the country won the bid to host the 2014 Singles World Championship, setting in stone the country’s commitment to supporting and advancing the sport at both national and international level.
Given the proximity of Germany to Scandinavian countries, in which the sport developed, early growth in popularity within the country was a natural progression of the sport. Since then, the country has invested in growing the game, and it has succeeded in supporting top talent at the world stage.
In 2001, Racketlon was first officially played in the country, and following this was the creation of the Deutscher Racketlon Verband in 2008. The governing body’s mission is to promote the sport in the country, as well as, to represent Germany at the internationally stage. Also, the organization funds tournaments and promotes the growth of young talent.
7. United States of America
Racketlon took off in the USA in 2006, following the creation of the United States Racketlon Federation. Before this, however, there had been a number of locally organized Racketlon tournaments.
The country began hosting the Massachusetts Racket Masters after joining the FIR, and entered the 2013 world championships, in Bulgaria; represented by the Wesleyan University Racketlon team. The United States is yet to place a player in the top 10 FIR rankings, however, with time and growth of popularity, the US is poised to produced impressive talent for the sport.
Canada hosted its first national tournament in 2007. The Canadian Racketlon Open spurred national interest for the sport. The groundwork for this popularity was laid down in early 2000, following grassroots support of the sport with small communities developing clubs and coming together for minor competitions.
The Canada Racketlon Tour helped bring together enthusiasts and players from across the country to Toronto, and it laid the foundation for the Canadian Racketlon Open.
The first tour saw 70 players come together, and from then, the number has been growing each year it is hosted. Now, there are multiple recognized tournaments, including the Ottawa RA tournament, the Montreal Open, and the Pacific Rim Open held in Victoria.
Led by Racketlon Australia Inc., which was formed in 2012, Racketlon has been taking root in the country. Although not yet with an established Racketlon tournament, the organization has managed to foster interest to support individual talent, as well as, the building of clubs around the sport.
There are no FIR approved tournaments in the country at the moment, but Racketlon Australia Inc. has successfully organized local tournaments. Over time, as the sport gains traction in the country, we can expect to see competitive players from Australia.
India was one of the first Asian countries to welcome Racketlon, and it has already created a governing body, Racketlon India Sports Association. Under it, India has successfully organized and hosted national championships.
India’s welcoming of Racketlon was supported by an already robust racket sports culture which is reinforced across school levels, and, even, small clubs throughout the country. Currently, the country has produced a World Junior Squash silver medalist, a fact that has positively attracted public attention.
Although the country has a strong and growing presence of Racketlon, it has not yet managed to put players in the top ranks of the FIR World Tour Race. But with a blossoming talent and growing popularity, this is soon to change. RISA is planning on creating more Racketlon facilities, as well as, and expanding and growing the number of clubs to other areas, in addition to Mumbai.
All things considered
Racketlon is catching on quickly throughout the world. These countries are taking the lead in gathering grassroots enthusiasm for the sport, as well as, encouraging and supporting young talent to develop.
As more and more countries grow their own Racketlon presence, they are coming together to measure up against each other, creating a community of passionate players and a network of support for growing talent.
The FIR has set a target for Racketlon to be included in the 2024 Olympics, and these 10 countries are setting the stage for worldwide recognition of the sport.