What is Racketlon?
Racketlon is a combination of the individual sports disciplines of badminton, squash, table tennis and tennis.
You too can participate in Racketlon
Racketlon is for everyone – from a beginner, to the amateur to the professional. You challenge your opponent in each of the four disciplines. Players at all skill levels can take part in one tournament together, but in different classes. A Racketlon match contains four sets, one in each sport. Each set is played to 21 points, but the total winner of a Racketlon match is not the one that wins most sets, but the one that scores the most points in total.
The origins of Racketlon can be traced back to Scandinavia to the mid-80s where four individuals representing each of the four racket federations came together in Finland to form a game they called ‘mailapelit’, i.e. ‘racket games’. During the first couple of years the name ‘Racketlon’ was not yet invented. Instead, ‘racket championships’ was used. Also, the rules were different.
The first pioneer of Racketlon was Fred Perry. In 1929, he became table tennis world champion in Budapest and from 1934 to 1936 he won the Wimbledon title in tennis for three years in a row. What followed were further international table tennis medals and tennis grand slam victories. In 2003, the sport Racketlon went on World Tour for the first time, thanks to some enthusiasts from Sweden, where national tournaments are held since 1990.
The first Finnish Championships were held in Helsinki in 1986. The sport rapidly grew and gradually changed to the Racketlon format. In May 1989, the ‘Mr Racketlon’ of Sweden and twice national champion, Peter Landberg organized the first competition. The following year, in 1990, the first Swedish Championships took place and attracted more than 200 players.
In 1994, the present rules of counting were introduced thanks to an unexpected discovery. It was found out that a similar game, ‘mailapelit’, was played in Finland. The Finnish game contained the same sports disciplines but the counting was different and much simpler – each set to 21 points, most points is the winner. These rules were straightforwardly imported and the 1994 Swedish Racketlon Championships were using the Finnish counting, which has been the case ever since.
Interestingly, the developments in Sweden and Finland seem to have occurred independently at around the same time. It was only after several years of activity that the movements got to know about each other with the result mentioned above and the Finnish rules were adopted by the Swedes.
Activities similar to Racketlon are going on in many places around the world. In Germany, for example, ‘Schlägerturniere’ (Eng. racket tournaments) involving 3, 4 or even 5 rackets seem quite common. (The fifth Schläger being a golf club). In England, there are vague traces of something called Quintathlon covering squash, tennis, rackets, real court tennis and (again!) golf.
A significant step towards the internationalisation of Racketlon was taken in the autumn of 2001 when the first ever international Racketlon tournament took place. Gothenburg Racketlon World Open was played from the 2nd-4th November, 2001. This was when the Finnish and Swedish Racketlon elites first faced each other and the result was no less than a shock to the somewhat conceited Swedish Racketlon community. The Finns won both the prestigious Men's and Ladies' Elite classes and a final victory in the Men's Veteran class made it painfully obvious to the Swedes that they had been the victims of a clean sweep – and totally unexpected too. Players from six different countries took part. Apart from Finland and Sweden, Scotland, France, Germany and Bulgaria were represented. Since then, one milestone after another have been reached, such as: The first international Racketlon tournament in Finland was played in May 2002 and in the same year the first Racketlon tournament outside Scandinavia took place in Scotland in mid-August. At the second World Championships in Gothenburg 2002, a National team competition was played for the first time. The premiere of the World Tour was in 2003.